A few weeks ago, I found myself seated with some unfamiliar faces over dinner. Attending a wedding with Lee, my parents and my brothers, we found ourselves on a table with two couples.
We introduced ourselves over a bottle of red wine and bread basket, and spent the next few hours chatting about anything and everything. We talked about our jobs and our homes, our plans for the coming year and our recent holidays. But somehow, (lots of wine, is how), the conversation turned to politics.
We seemed to have ended up on a table that was, for the most part, somewhat left-of-centre. Looking back, I suspect the bride and groom were careful to seat guests according to who would rub along well together after a lot of alcohol – so perhaps it wasn’t so much luck as much as careful planning. But whatever the reason, we appeared to vote for the same parties and believe in the same values and feel the same frustration about particular topics.
So, there wasn’t too much tongue biting or throat clearing or awkwardness. But, I did learn something I wasn’t expecting – something I think is really, really significant, and won’t ever forget.
The chap to my right (a secondary school maths teacher named Isaac) said this:
“Your first thought is the way society has conditioned you to think. Your second thought is who you really are”.
Isn’t that remarkable? Whatever surfaces to your mind unbidden regarding race, sex, religion or any other subject, is not the first thought that counts. The second one – the one that employs reason, argument and consideration – is the one that shows who you really are.
That’s something I’m going to try to remember for the rest of my life.
What about you?