If I had to give a name to the interaction that takes places at one of these events, I would have to call the Durgin-Park effect.
Durgin-Park is an old restaurant in the Market district of Boston which as the advertising says "was established before you were born."
It is famous for big hunks of prime rib still on the bone, somewhat saucy waitresses, and the long dining house style tables with red checked table clothes which can put you across the table from anyone.
Most of us would stay in a rut unless something pulled us out of it occasionally. Making a new human contact is something that reminds us that we are part of human family that transcends our own families.
A community or church dinner is one of those things that will keep you human. You learn what is going on outside your family and even meet new and interesting people.
The picture in the post comes from the Swansboro, NC Pig Cook off and Crafts' Fair which is held each fall.
We stopped by in fall of 2007 to enjoy a six dollar dinner of more eastern style barbecue than you can eat. In the eastern part of the North Carolina, the community meals generally focus on barbecue, fish, and oysters.
As is often the case, we met some new folks and then got a visit by some friends that we had recently made. Another year, and we will be old timers.
After lots of talk, we walked around and enjoyed the local crafts.
Today we had a lunch after the service in our Cape Carteret Presbyterian Church. It was a great time to meet some new people.
We have enjoyed some great Wednesday night meals at our Roanoke church home, Covenant Presbyterian.
It seems many of the community meals in western NC and Virginia focus on chicken. One of my favorites is Fire Station Chicken. The chicken has to be appropriately charred to be tasty.
Besides providing some very good food, these community and church meals bring us together so that we can realize how much common ground that we still have. We need more of that. Talking to each other will bring us together and offers more hope of solving problems than a bunch of politicians.
It is hard enough for families to get together these days, so an opportunity to sit down with your community is very rare. In many cases it is nearly impossible for communities to sit down at a few tables and look each other in the eye. Luckily people work hard at figuring out how to it. I think it is a part of our instincts. The need to be together in a group is a powerful force.
Yet that being together is exactly what we need. I have learned that the Internet and Email can have a very dehumanizing effect on people.
The more people get hooked on electronic communication, the bigger chance we have of forgetting how to treat real people.
People say and do things in emails and instant messages that they would not do in person.
I have seen people who are addicted to their Blackberries and cell phones completely lose their humanity and forget how to treat people as people.
I still believe in personal contact with other humans as a key to your sanity.
If that is old school then count me as old school. Certainly my old school attitude is helping me be successful in real estate.
I hope I remain hooked on humans. I can still remember when we lived on the farm in Tay Creek, New Brunswick. One of the highlights of the summer was the community getting together to eat.
The next time you have a chance to go to a community or church meal, take advantage of it. You will find something special there besides the food.