If you could have lunch with anybody, who would it be and what would you like to discuss?
An age old prompt that people have been asking almost as long as there have been lunches. And so many possible ways to look at it. Is it anybody living or dead, entering the realm of the impossible? Can it be a fictional character, thus entering the realm of fantasy? Certainly famous people are the most common answer one way or the other, despite the low likelihood of ever dining with them. The prompt itself doesn't specify perimeters.
Plus, knowing me, I am unlikely to have lunch with anybody unless I know them fairly well already. I'm a reserved introvert who doesn't do much conventional networking after all. I don't often do lunch with total strangers, and any friends with whom I could possibly have lunch have at some point already joined me in same. As much as I would love to lunch with my friends again, that seems to be an uninteresting source of potential mealtime companions within the context of this prompt.
Though I like to think I would not be star struck into silence, given the chance to prepare for a meal with a celebrity I admired, there are all kinds of famous people I would love a chance to converse with over a meal. Actors. A few athletes. A writer here and there. I think it would be impossible for me to pick one single individual with whom I would long to have lunch and conversation above all others. So instead of trying to pick the most intriguing celebrity option, I will go with a more down to earth but nonetheless desirous partner. One that in this context is anonymous.
I'd sit down to lunch with an American Muslim. I don't know any devout Muslims in this country personally. And while I know in my heart I am not a Muslim, nor could I be one, I would want to sit down with one first and foremost to discuss how they feel. How they are doing personally, emotionally, and spiritually in a climate that seems to me more committed to their destruction, or at least their subjugation, with each passing day. I wish to be the set of ears and open mind in person for them that I suspect they have found lacking in society as a whole over the last several years. I'd want them to tell me if they are angry, forgiving, confused, hurt, or perhaps even unfazed by the way so many vocal elements of our society view and speak of Islam.
I'd also want to hear about the people who have not succumbed to the bigotry and ignorance that associates the religion itself with terrorism. (There is zero connection.) I would ask where they have found American non-Muslims who treated them with dignity and respect, when earned. I'd be even more interested in examples of such people who belonged to other religions. Those who know that respect is earned by an individual person, not denied based on a warped interpretation of an entire demographic.
I'd want to know if they, the Muslim, being on the bad end of this witch hunt, have any reason to be optimistic about the United States. I'd want to know from them what they think can be done. I'd ask of this to satisfy my own need to find hope about the future of my society.
Finally if it would be of any use, I would do my best to convey to them that I see them as personally guiltless in terrorist acts that have affected my country. That I see Islam as blameless in same, and that while not adhering to the tenants of Islam, I find nothing threatening about them doing so. I doubt they require my exhortations of magnanimity in order to feel complete, yet I hope hearing them would provide at least a minor salve to some of the possible pain they feel.
I'd mention that these problems are beyond me in such a system, and that the only things I could see myself doing that would counteract any of it would be having more lunches like our lunch, and encouraging others so do to when they could. To resist my potent desire at times to retaliate with my own vilification of certain other religions that I see as stoking the anti-Islamic fires in this country. To nonetheless speak out against rumors and untruths that are sold as fact and history. To educate myself even further so I could be even more effective at this. And of course to keep in mind any suggestions they may have for cooling the increasing heat over religion that is scorching the earth of this country.
It may not be a comfortable lunch. It may not be the most upbeat meal time conversation that either me or my companion would ever have. Yet if it were the right companion, that would be patient with my conversational idiosyncrasies and such, I can think of fewer lunches with greater potential to effect those certain parts of my soul more effectively.