Guess who’s not coming to dinner?

By reliable account olive trees are native to Asia and the Mediterranean. Curiously, and despite that our own climate is as conducive as that of, say, California and Africa where the trees also thrive naturally, our famously selfless Christian discoverers never thought to plant one or two in our own soil where anything grows, if according to soi-disant historians Henry Breen and Pere Labat, who evidently knew far more about us than even today we know of ourselves.
Our primordial saviors had taken the trouble to gift us with vitamin-laden goodies from lands far away, with or without attached strings: among them breadfruit, banana, sugarcane (replete with enslaving mills!), not to mention quadruped menaces too numerous to mention.
Yes, so why not olive trees? In any event, why do we talk with such evident sincerity about extending to our enemies olive branches that have never existed on this Rock of Sages, save the plastic variety specially imported at Christmastime?                 And how careless of us to keep forgetting plastic is not only a near indisposable pollutant but also a euphemism for fake, counterfeit, ersatz, pretence and countless other pejoratives?
Of course nothing so far stated is meant to suggest the olive branch, real and metaphorical, is not representative of hope and peace: no less than the Hebrew bible describes a story in which a lone dove was released by Noah after the Great Flood had receded and once again there was land for man. By biblical account the dove returned to Noah bearing an olive branch that, according to those who know best about such matters, symbolized God had ended his war on mankind. But that’s for some other hypocrite’s Sunday sermon.
Olive branches came to mind this week upon learning President Obama had invited Mitt Romney to lunch at the White House, during which they hoped to small-talk about their respective ideas for the betterment of their country. There has been so far no reported exchanges of olive branches, figurative or otherwise, not from the president or his invited special guest, maybe because neither had ever considered the other an enemy—or their election campaigns warfare.
I dare to say that when the two sat down at Obama’s White House lunch table on Thursday there were no sly references to the president’s birth certificate, his skin tone, his Kenyan roots. Or for that matter Romney’s much publicized penchant for flip-flopping, his earlier maligned business methods, his conversion from Catholicism to Mormonism following a crash-related miracle on the road to Paris.
True, perhaps the birthplace of Donald Trump’s hair might rate a mention, but only because his other-worldly coif remains a fascination for regular humans. And as was made more than ever clear during the presidential campaign, both Obama and Romney are human, with all the attendant frailties.
The best part, for me, is that both the President of the United States—arguably the world’s most powerful man, and by that I don’t mean most powerful black man, which is hardly the same—and he who had sought to but failed to replace him would, by sitting down to lunch at the same table, have proved themselves both to be men of humility with a strong belief in the power of forgiveness. (Has it been all of 52 years since Greensboro lunch counters were desegregated?)
I doubt very much that without Obama’s free lunch Romney would’ve gone hungry; he certainly can afford his feast. Maybe one even more satisfying than what was on the White House’s presumably cash-strapped menu.
Conceivably, Obama and Romney have more in common than may have met the eye of prejudice: for one thing, their demonstrated love of country—evidently unaffected by political differences!
Now, if only we could learn a lesson from this particular white man that some of us, incredibly, had permitted ourselves for the duration of the presidential campaign to long-distance hate. If only we could bring ourselves to appreciate the generosity of the black man who had invited him to lunch this week with the President of the United States.
Oh, but our own one-trick parliamentary ponies and their blind encouragers can’t even bring themselves to be civil to one another except when delivering off-the-cuff Christmas speeches. And even then not without rancorous reminders that come the new year it’ll be back to Twilight sagas again and voracious vampires viciously attacking each other’s jugulars.
Unsurprisingly, the year is closing with no informative word on the all-important issue of Grynberg. The prime minister continues contemptuously to refuse to explain why the governor general was never involved. Neither has the opposition leader revealed to the nation whether he had sought, as prime minister or in more recent times, related information from Dame Pearlette. Meanwhile we quake at their sight, as I imagine had those watchful shepherds and their silent sheep all seated on the ground thousands of unforgettable nights ago somewhere in Jerusalem.
As for the mundane court matter involving the foreign affairs minister and his former ever-loving, what a hoot to hear the prejudging Pharisees in their coats of red and yellow—all caroling for what little supper remains available. As I say, we could learn a lot from Barrack and Mitt’s White House lunch. But then I am abruptly reminded that our own leaders have for so long been out to lunch, chances are they no longer remember why we elected them in the
first place.
We would do ourselves a whole lot of good if only we can wake up and smell the irreversible winds of change. Either we find the courage to reinvent ourselves for the purposes of the new world environment or we’ll all be blown to oblivion with our powerless-power-drunk and irrevocably out-to-lunch leaders, pipeline-clogging plastic olive branches and all!

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