- Unexpected Consequences
This is about doing good and its unintended and unexpected consequences. On a recent Tuesday evening I was sitting at a Community Dinner Table weekly dinner. I had been there before, serving in different capacities. Looking around the Fellowship Hall at Jason Lee Memorial Methodist Church, I watched as at least two extremely important things were taking place. First, anyone who was hungry for food or companionship had a warm meal and warm hearts to share it with. Second, people who were serving together, enjoying one another’s company, probably would not have been doing this ten years ago. CDT didn’t exist then.
I moved here in 1981 and became involved in community efforts to pass bonds for the benefit of school repair and additions. The last one was to add on to Blackfoot High School. There have been other issues I’ve been involved with as well. To obtain support for these causes I was surprised and concerned that planning sessions had to account for community differences and divisions that had nothing to do with the decisions to be made for the common good. There were walls that existed between neighborhoods, religions, ethnicities, political affiliation…the existence of these walls wasn’t a jaw dropper, but the assumption made that there was no way to reach over, around or through these differences was just that. There was little common ground. When the Snake River overflowed, flooding businesses and homes, we came together as a community. The walls were temporarily taken down. I met good people filling and placing sandbags I had not known. The fellowship I felt with them encouraged me. But it didn’t last. When the flood waters evaporated so did most of the benefits of coming together.
In contrast, The Community Dinner Table has brought the community together powerfully and with more staying power than did the floods. The goal of CDT was to feed people. The unintended consequence was to unify our community to do something good, and to do it for the right reasons. It has brought people together who hadn’t worked cooperatively before. There was a need and it was filled. Simple as that. It’s scarcity that will always be with us. My personal involvement with CDT started as way to help hungry and lonely people. I received much more in return than I gave. What I’ve gained in respect and understanding for different faith groups, businesses, and individuals is of real value. Based on past experiences, I didn’t expect to make lasting new friends, but I did. It was all unintended. So, my thanks to those who had the vision and tenacity to bring us together. You have made a big difference. Thank you, Community Dinner Table! — Doug Eddington