Doing the dishes

Submitted by Eli Winterfeld on February 26, 2012 - 8:09pm

“Everyone wants a revolution, but no one wants to do the dishes”.  Recently, I’ve grown very fond of this saying by writer, activist, and communal liver Shane Claiborne.  This little quip holds immense insight into the complexity that is community development, be it formal or informal. 

Talking big ideas or participating in a high profile event is exciting and play significant roles in fostering community.  But so does doing the dishes, literally and metaphorically.  I sometimes get so caught up in striving for a wholesome purposeful life of servant hood and social justice that I forget to do the small things that are the only way to carry out those ideals as a general lifestyle.

Small everyday actions make up our lives.  Life is made up of moments and doing the dishes, giving a hug or lending something to my neighbor is what leads to the way of life that I spend countless hours scheming.  I scheme so much that neglect the nuances of relationships, on which community based. 

This idea brings me back to the concept of intentionality.  I find that intentionality is a remedy for most of my concerns.  I need to live a life that, while striving for big picture change, is rooted in simple everyday actions of love and community.

This is why my student house of 8 has a “family dinner” every Monday night.  It is a time for us to be intentional about sustaining and strengthening our relationship as a community.  After an undoubtedly delicious meal, we share our highlight and lowlight of the week, giving insight into to our current joys and concerns.  This helps us more effectively support each other and in turn receive support. 

Put simply, I need to remember to live the philosophies I support in the most fundamental way possible, by doing the dishes.

What do you folk think are some practical ways we can “do the dishes” in the journey of living a community oriented life?

Slowing down

Great post Eli!!! I completely agree.  I know I get caught up on the big stuff too.  I do think though that it is the little stuff that keeps us grounded, that brings balance to our lives and really is what defines our character.  As for ways to do the dishes in our day to day lives, I think taking interest in the people around us.  ASking them how there day was without expectign anything in return.  I am reading a book right now about the Slow movement and it makes a good point that we are on a fast never ending treadmill.  Even when we are not moving our minds are.  I think by stopping and talking with a person (whether it is someone we know or not) and actually listening to them and being with them in that moment, it serves to slow us down and to show them that we care.