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The Daily Paradox

The Daily Paradox: A Dinner Party

Ten people gathered round a table with good food, good talk and good results. What’s so strange about that? No mobile phones in sight, all evening. Each person a busy professional – diplomat, surgeon, architect, trainer, artist, communicator, traveller, financier, mentor, business manager – and not a single interruption to the evening. How unusual is that today? So what was the agenda? There was no agenda. It was an evening of good food and good talk. What was it for? To enjoy, to stimulate thinking, to catch up on where those present had reached in their lives and where they were heading, to ‘put the world to rights’.

There was no gossip, no rabid denouement of unappreciated ideas, no lurid competition to outshine other guests, no excessive language to impress a point of view. Laughter dominated the evening. Laughter and an occasional near-tear at the memory of someone gone from life or of friends moving to other countries, jobs, stages of career, paces of living. It was warm and the warmth was an all pervasive live-and-let-live, not the heat of opposing sides or of exchanges of fiercely held contradictory ideologies.

Was the conversation serious? At times, yes. It is a serious world. A major Russian dissenter had just been declared dead but his remains were nowhere to be found. In a separate incident a battle in the war for freedom had been lost and most world leaders were busy accusing other world leaders in the spiralling blame game that defines modern international politics. The shifts from victim to aggressor and vice versa in country and community relations gave rise to worry for the young soon to move into control of the world.

There was plenty to laugh at, too. A group of thoughtful people round a table can easily turn some of the world’s angst into the parody of common sense that it has become. Making light of problems is usually a more effective way of finding a solution to them than establishing yet another universal committee of protocol and procedure. The best committees are chairless, agendaless and minuteless. They just need good food and good talk.

A gathering like this is as religious as any pastoral service but without the ideological pressure to declare dogma. Its worship is muted admiration for the gift of learning from others. Its chants are the smiles of welcome, the kindly expressed other points of view, the second helpings of delicious eating. Its prayer is self-evident love for friends. Its Amen is the handshake of hello and the hug of farewell. It is truly a communion.

But not the last supper.

Good morning
John Bittleston

If you want to know where the Trump movement in the USA is heading I suggest you watch the Netflix film Einstein and the bomb and answer the question: “Is today’s diplomacy up to preventing the seemingly inevitable slide into WWIII?” 

You might kindly let us know the answer, too, at [email protected].

19 February 2024