Have you ever heard of American Soup?
America has been nicknamed “the melting pot” because of our widely diverse population. People from every nation, tribe, and tongue have settled here for centuries, making us a nation of all cultures, customs, and beliefs. We’ve gotten some things right and some things horribly wrong over the years. Each page of our past has brought us to where we are today.
But America isn’t feeling much like a melting pot these days. It doesn’t feel like all of our customs and religions and experiences and languages and cultures have melded into one. And you know what? I don’t think they’re supposed to.
In a melting pot, everything thrown into the mix loses its identity as it swirls around the basin, combining textures and flavors until it becomes a new substance. That’s not America. There was a time in our nation’s history when settlers felt that everyone must look and act the same way. Thankfully time has taught us many valuable lessons, and we now know that it is our differences that make us great.
I propose that we start thinking of America as a pot of soup.
Each ingredient stands uniquely separate from all the others, bringing its own rich flavor, nutrition, color, and texture. The ingredients in a pot of soup complement each other and if the consumer is intentional, he or she can taste and savor each individual ingredient as it tickles their taste buds. That’s what we need in our country today – intentional savoring of what each of us brings to the table.
The Current Climate
The world has faced more challenges in 2020 than any of us expected or even imagined. The global COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt. Life changed for everyone. People were (and still are) dying. Jobs became essential or non-essential. Students stayed home. Sports were canceled. PCSing and moving stopped. Buying groceries became challenging, and finding toilet paper was impossible. We got tired of being at home yet we felt nervous about going out. Some of us were forced against our will to stay home. Some of us were forced against our will to go to work. We began questioning the reach of the government. Our hearts grew heavy. Our minds grew weary.
For weeks, we rallied together in every appropriately socially distanced way we could. In one of the darkest periods of American history, we came together.
Then on May 25th, a black man was murdered by a group of white police officers. He wasn’t the first black man to die unjustly at the hands of white police officers. This wasn’t a new problem. But the number of Americans who began crying out for justice was substantial. Some began protesting. Others began rioting. Buildings burned to the ground. Businesses were destroyed. Lives were taken. Police officers and civilians were killed.
The intense pressure of a three-month pandemic fueled by the blatant act of police brutality made America erupt like a volcano.
Over the past few weeks we’ve watched one of the greatest nations on earth tear itself apart. We’ve replayed the past. We’ve argued about the present. And we’ve cried for change in the future. We’ve taken sides and judged each other’s motives and focused all of our efforts on dealing with racism in America.
I’m not going to lie. As a white woman, I have no idea how to help make this situation better. People on social media tell me I need to listen, but listening feels like a very passive action to take right now. People tell me to read the stories of African Americans who have been enslaved and oppressed throughout the history of our nation, so I’ve been reading… but reading feels like a very passive action to take right now.
The only true calls-to-action I’ve heard are calls to protest. Protesting certainly isn’t passive, but I’m honestly not sure how much it helps. I believe that most African-Americans are good people; I also believe that most police officers are good people. I’m not anti-black or anti-cop or anti-anything-else. I just want the world to be a better place for my children.
I live in a neighborhood full of black people and brown people and white people. I go to church with friends from Haiti, Puerto Rico, and Brazil where the message is brought in 5 different languages. I live my life in a beautiful pot of bubbling soup, and my heart hurts that the rest of the country hasn’t figured out how much better life is when it’s filled with diversity.
My Call-To-Action: Let’s Make Soup!
I’ve been thinking and praying for days about what I can do to make a difference. I’ve read. I’ve watched. I’ve written. But what else can I do?
I can make soup. #AmericanSoup.
Cesar Chavez once said, “If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”
So, that’s my call-to-action. Let’s make American Soup!
- Deliver a pot of soup to a neighbor that doesn’t look like you. Attach a note saying that you’re glad that America is a great big ole’ pot of soup and you’re thankful for the unique flavor they bring to your community.
- Invite some neighbors over for soup and encourage them to bring their favorite dish, as well. Talk about and celebrate your differences.
- Deliver or order some soup to be delivered to your local law enforcement officers. Attach the same note as above, thank them for their service, and encourage them to keep protecting the diverse people groups of your community.
- Host a Soup & Salad Supper for your neighborhood, church group, youth sports team families, office place, or another group (when local quarantine laws allow). Encourage everyone to bring something different and enjoying trying new dishes while holding new conversations.
I know that making a pot of soup sounds like a very small action to take. It might even sound silly to you. But I think it’s the small, personal actions we take that often make the biggest difference. It’s the gesture of friendship, the invitation to have hard conversations, and the willingness to learn from others. It’s the interaction and the understanding that will bring bigger changes to our country.
Whether curry soup, stuffed pepper soup, or egg drop soup is your jam, you won’t be sorry that you opened your heart (and your kitchen) to others.
So, go make some soup! Break bread! And let’s heal some of the wounds in our communities and across our country.
If you decide to join me in celebrating diversity through sharing soup, would you share a pic on social media with #AmericanSoup ? I’d love to see how you’re facilitating healing in our country by reaching out to others.