Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Barbecue solves everything?

I'm not one to post full articles here, but I couldn't pass this one up. Its subject is family barbecues, but I think it could equally apply to communion at church, with friends or even - dare I say it - complete strangers.

Eat Together, Talk Together, and End the Violence
By: Dawn McMullan (freelance writer)
From: The Dallas Morning News, April 5th, 2005

Want to know why kids are killing each other at school? It's not because there are too many guns (although I'd certainly like to see them off the streets). It's not because kids are watching movies about school shootings. It's not because they're playing Grand Theft Auto.

It's because there aren't enough family barbecues.

Why aren't we as outraged about the recent shootings in Minnesota as we were with Columbine? Why are we becoming more like Israel in our acceptance of violence and less like, say, Sweden?

Same reason. It's all about the barbecue.

The fact that a teenage kid can get to the point where he brings a gun to school, shoots another person and another and another, then shoots himself, means that kid wasn't going to any family barbecues. That boy's family – be it over a smoker in small-town Texas or a reservation in Minnesota – should know what's going on inside his head. A child bringing a gun to school is not the first symptom that something is going wrong in that child's life. It certainly often is the last, however.

My father-in-law was part of the family barbecue tradition here in Texas. Several times a year, he'd fire up the barrel smoker, invite his family and friends over whenever they wanted to arrive and spend the evening eating a bunch of meat, drinking a fair amount of beer, laughing and talking with those closest to him. At the end of the evening, everyone smelled a little smokey and had told just about all they had to tell about their life and what was going on in the world.

My father-in-law died eight years ago. But my husband's brother, who still lives in our hometown of Waxahachie, carries on the barbecue tradition every now and then.

About a month ago – with sick kids, deadlines I didn't think I could meet and our school's largest annual fund-raiser to plan – I had a craving for one of those barbecues. And not a carnivorous craving. A social craving. Lucky for me, some cousins came into town, and we spent a recent Friday night inhaling that smoke and catching up.

Maybe this is a simplistic view of how to turn around our increasingly violent and apathetic society. But I don't see bad parents at these barbecues. I see parents I don't always agree with. Parents who raise their children differently than I do. Parents with whom I differ on politics, religion, even whether we should be eating that meat on the smoker.

But I see parents. With their children. I see grandparents. With their children. I see aunts and uncles. With their children. I see friends. With their children. I see a yard full of people who would know a child well enough to see – and do something about – that first sign of trouble. Because that's when we, as a society, can do something about it. It's too late when it hits the news. Kids are dead.

We are headed down a road of more school shootings that we will be less shocked by. The road we should be headed down is one that includes more family barbecues.

You name any one of our infamous list of school shooters. If you had dropped them into my father-in-law's family – or another family where parents knew their children and extended family knew those children, and where family was the most important part of the day – these kids would not be dead.

It's all about the barbecue.


At 4:52 PM, Blogger ats54 said...

I completely agree with this article. It goes along with my theory that McDonald's ruined the American family and consequently, American society.

With the advent of fast food and the drive-thru, the American meal - formerly a central part of American community - was reduced to a few minutes in the car, a few dollars and no familial connection. This proceeded into workaholic adults and latchkey kids.

If I remember correctly, most of these mass school shootings (I know Columbine fits the bill) have been in middle to upper class communities. These are families that do not require the parent(s) to work 75 hours a week. They can afford to have a nice dinner together, but they choose not too - all because they would rather drive a Porsche instead of a Pontiac.

At 8:33 AM, Blogger 42 said...

In today's NY TIMES:


Eric Schlosser, author of the very important book FAST FOOD NATION, talks about Taco Bell stepping up to the plate ...

"Monterey, Calif. — AND now a word of good news from the world of fast food.

Last month, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group that represents farm workers in southern Florida, announced that it was ending a four-year boycott of Taco Bell. The most remarkable thing about the announcement was the reason behind it: Taco Bell had acceded to all of the coalition's demands. At a time of declining union membership, failed organizing drives and public apathy about poverty, a group of immigrant tomato pickers had persuaded an enormous fast food company - Yum Brands, which in addition to Taco Bell owns KFC, Pizza Hut, A&W All American Food Restaurants and Long John Silver's - to increase the wages of migrant workers and impose a tough code of conduct on Florida tomato suppliers..."

Mmmmm, Long John Silver's.

At 8:35 AM, Blogger 42 said...

Read the article! Several churches (United Methodist, Presbyterian Church, etc) supported the boycott!


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