On 70s dinner parties, civic habits, and dining in
The arrival of a dreadful airborne pandemic forced countless abrupt changes on society. Some, like the vastly increased accommodation for those who want to work from home, have even ended up as positive outcomes. But for the most part, the changes we made were forced on us rather than deliberate.
■ We ought to take the chance, while people are taking a more conscious approach to their social commitments, to reboot the American dinner party as an institution. It seems evident that the classic events reflected some of the status aspirations of a rising middle class out to consume conspicuously. Mistakes were made along the way.
■ This time around, we ought to look to common dining as a way to enhance community-building. Maybe we need an annual holiday set aside for the practice. It's credible to assume that on a civic level, we're going to need the same kinds of systemic habits and behaviors that may not be able to completely curtail the worst things that can happen in a democracy, but that can make us a little more resilient in the face of challenges.
■ Making conscious efforts to strengthen our bonds with old friends while planting the seeds for new bonds with others seems to be one way to reverse the decline in social trust that has been lamented from so many sides for so long.