Yesterday, The Pack was taking its usual after-hours walk around the local high school grounds. As usual, the dogs nudged their way toward the classroom area where they went into electrolux mode sniffing and scarfing up food-detritus. This annoys me, but I let them do it at least for a while on the rationalization that hunting and scavenging are what dogs are about. I do put my foot down, though, on Goobers and other disgusting things that our teenage population dribble out of their mouths.
It annoys me to see what these kids eat, which seems to consist in 1001 varieties of salt, grease and sugar. Strewn around the place are: pizza slices, french fries, velveeta smothered nachos, saucy crunchy chicken nuggets, hot dogs and chips, chips, muffins and candy. Oh for an apple core!!
It also annoys me to see how much of this garbage doesn't seem to make it to its intended repository but instead gets spilled about the ground. Are they physically challenged or are they just pigs?
These annoyances are so routine by now that I hardly think about them. But they do come to mind when, as yesterday, Rosco-dog makes a quick lunge for something particularly revolting.
A voice hearkened to my muttering. "Oh, come on, now. Kids will be kids."
"Yes, it's only natural that some food will get dropped and dribbled here and there."
"It is? No it isn't. What's unnatural is that these kids are allowed to eat and roam at the same time, as if they were some species on the hoof."
It then occurred to me that yet another thing wrong with our public schools is that they don't require everyone to sit down at a common meal. In our local school, they let the kids wander about munching fast food garbage, in a mode little different from that of my dogs. In others schools, the students are allowed to meander into a noisy cafeteria where they divide up into cliques and clusters. Either way, this is completely wrong. It is, in fact, degenerate.
The common meal is the most basic social act in all cultures. That more than 1000 lectures and 1001 school pep rallies is the one thing that inculcates a spirit and habit of community. What our local school is teaching, at a very radical level, is simply alienation and irresponsibility.
I thought back to my (rather privileged) school days. Boy! were we noisy brats. We had our cliques. We tripped up our fellow-student waiters, found ways to steal extra helpings from the serving carts and did all the mischevious and voluble things kids do. But when all was said and done, three times a day we gathered, stood behind our chairs and sat down to eat together.
Of course, this country being what it is, any Common Meals Program is bound to stir up a School Prayer Controversy, which will no doubt make its way all the way up to the Supreme Court as Americans find yet another way to quarrel over the inconsequential while ignoring the simple basics, which could be simply stated as: mindful of those less fortunate; we are thankful for our food and for our friends.