Up on the High Stool

I recently heard a story which was told with much delight, but somehow made me feel extremely bad and sad at the same time. It wasn’t something I thought one should feel “delighted” about. In fact, I would feel ashamed.

The story I was told pertained to a friend receiving a guest from a continent that differed in both climate, history and culture from Asia. The guest mentioned that he did not eat any animal that lived in water because in their country, they didn’t consider it a good thing.

Gleefully, the host decided to “teach” this person that eating animals that lived in water wasn’t such a bad thing and that there was nothing “wrong” with it. The host then continues to order some frogs, trick the unassuming guest that it is actually “chicken” and then later reveals the truth.

The guest spends the night, unable to sleep because he had done something that in his value system was considered “wrong.”

This story to me is a reflection of how some of us, have gotten so stuck to sitting on the high stool that one deems all others inferior to us without first trying to understand situations from other person’s point of view.

Just because one person has a certain “belief” about what food they should eat, doesn’t render them inferior to us. There is also no written rule that because a certain country is more developed, that their beliefs and cultures are “superior” to the other. There is also no reason to think that it is our role to “teach” someone how life should be lived.

I think that if one spent more time listening and trying to understand the other person then this world would be a better place to live. 🙂 Why make another person uncomfortable if only to satisfy us? That is something I won’t ever understand..

People from different continents undoubtedly have different cultures, values and beliefs which are central to defining them as the person they are. Would we like it if someone told us to do something we believed was utterly wrong and against our value system? Like telling a vegetarian that eating beef was better for them and a very good thing to do? I think not.