12/27/2011

The Art of Tolerance or Intolerance

Living in a multi racial and multi religious society is getting more complicated and even demanding of everyone to be extra sensitive to the needs and taboos of everyone. The special needs could now extend to people with medical or psychological conditions as well.

I will just confine to one specific factor of food and inviting people to a pig out or makan event, or a party, religious, cultural or just a simple wedding. The latter is of extra sensitive other than just an issue of food. Anyone who has been put through such an ordeal will know how difficult and sensitive is the invitation list as it could offend people for inviting and not inviting them, and serving them the right food. The vegetarians always felt shortchanged when others feasted on sumptious dishes and theirs were simply vegetables or glutens.

Putting that aside, let’s talk about an invitation to a Christmas Party. Not everyone is agreeable with the religion in the first place. That is another issue. Not everyone is agreeable with the food and the alcohol on offer. We have people who can’t take meat, some can’t take ham, some cannot consume alcohol, some can’t have sugar, some cannot take legume related products or nuts, some can only take vegetables and vegetables of certain types.

How is the host going to take care of all the prohibitions and cannot issue? To make sure that everyone is going to have what they want and nothing else is a tall order. The problem is with the host or organiser. If they want to invite people with special needs and sensitivity towards food, isn’t it their responsibility to make sure that the guest’s needs are met and be happy? To complicate problems, the numbers of guests with special needs may be so small, one may be diabetic, two may be vegetarians, and vegetarians also got different types, vegans and non vegans, one may not be able to take pork, a few may need food to be halal. And some cannot have fried food. So how?

One way is to go for the lowest common denominator whereby everyone can eat the same food and no one will be cheated. I can only think of a perfect menu, plain rice, porridge, bread, can have a few types, Swiss, English, French etc, and a spread of vegetables, and plenty of non alcoholic drinks, without sugar of course.

But if the host is rich and money is no issue, he could still have his cake and eat it, ask each guest to pick his own menu and engage an army of chefs to prepare anything under the sky.

Another option is to defer to the host, host priority. The guests will let the host decides what he wants to serve and eat whatever they can find suitable to them. I did that most of the time. I am vegetarians on 3 full days a week. And it is difficult to demand on my friends and host to prepare vegetarian food on the days that I am vegetarian. I don’t expect my friends or hosts to know that. So I make do with what is available. I pick on vegetarian dishes and may just stick to one dish and avoid the rest. Or if that is not possible, I will just take the vegetable and beans in a plate of meat food. But only I can do that, to accommodate the host and avoid making things difficult for them. I am my own boss and god when food is concerned. I decide. I choose to be vegetarian and no need to blame others.

Many people cannot decide as there is god and religion involved, there is also the doctor and his prescription for those with health issues. These make things that much more inflexible as to what can be eaten or not eaten is no longer a personal decision. The only thing left is plain water.

The issue I presented is tolerance of the host or tolerance of the guests. In the former, the guests make do with what is on the table, without putting any demands or pressure on the host. The latter, the host would have to bend backwards to meet the sensitivities of the guests.

I am not going to suggest that we go the Banquet way, where restaurants should all go halal. For the next step is, why just halal and not go for the lowest set of common denominator, vegetarian? When that be the case, then those deprived of their food preference would become the sensitive ones, making unyielding demands that their cravings for food must be satisfied.

It is tough to say who is being sensitive or insensitive to the needs of others when the issue is getting more complex, demanding and irritating when words like discrimination is hung on the front chests.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some religions will preach for peace and love but promote war and hatred. Some people will profess to be tolerance but were really intolerance of others.

The truth is inside people's heart but all too polite to say it right in their faces.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Religion's to blame. Every religion is intolerant. That is what makes religion so fun to ridicule.

Religion's job is to force unproven beliefs down your throat -- purposely negating your individuality or any ideas about life you may have of your own.

And woe behold you if you refuse (like me) to "respect" someone elses stupid, unproven, bat shit crazy beliefs. You - the rational, levelheaded individual are now the bad guy -- the insensitive one, the intolerant one.

Fuck your god.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Most people are good, and pleasant to each other. This is quite natural. Once some aspect of "tribalism" -- that which divides people into groups -- in-groups and out-groups -- then you eventually see hostility arise.

Religion is one of the most powerful tribalisms because it deals with the very essence of what it is to be a conscious, mortal, emotional being. It speaks and amplifies the most fucked-up parts of human nature, based on FEAR.

Fuck your god's mother

The Man From PNG said...

Living in Sinkapore is really very stressful besides the stress of retaining a job against foreign trash, the ever problematic mrt, the "ponding" all over the island and now the gripe over food.

The best is to live in Papua New Guinea. There everyone eats everything including human beings if you are caught in a trap meant for wild pigs!

Only in Sinkapore can you find people griping about food and respect. If one don't like the food that is to be served just miss the party dude. Do not begrudge others enjoying themselves just because you can't eat certain food which is deemed "impure" In fact, all food are unclean and beneficial at the same time.

What a fucked up place!

agongkia said...

I dun quite agree with those who says that
the vegetarians always felt shortchanged when others feasted on sumptious dishes and theirs were simply vegetables or glutens.

Seems that many do not understand the purpose of being a vegetarian.

We_Are_Worse_Than_Third_Class said...

Even a office function can spark off a hotly debated issue. What has this society become ? We sinkies are not very enlightened.

The Man From PNG said...

There are two types of vegetarians.

One who eats vegetables on certain days only for health reasons because they want to live long long. Like Beanie here.

One who is a vegan, ie a strict vegetarian who eats nothing that was once a sentient being. But these ignoramus don't understand that even vegetables was live once.

Why worry too much about what you eat? Just eat and drink in moderation of everything and you will be a happier person.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi Worst than Third Class and Man from PNG, welcome to the blog.

I beg the vegan or vegetarian would care if others are slurping up their turkeys and ham while they feed on the grass left on the tables. They have chosen to eat that way and would not imposed anything on others. If there are no grass, they will probably eat something else and still enjoy the party.

That is tolerance. No emotional baggages.

Matilah_Singapura said...

IMO most vegetarians are "spirtual snobs" who think that opting to become vegetarians elevates them to a moral level "higher " and "superior " to normal fucked up lesser mortals.

But hey, some of those vege women have such slim arses.

So the rest of you gals , just keep eating those cheeseburgers. B-)

I go vegetarian about twice a year, and take the opportunity to revel in my moral superiority and look down and judge as many lo life human turds as possible.

When I. return to my normal less neurotic self, I resume the slaughter and butchery of animals and enjoy burning their flesh, and greedily eating the fat soaked pieces of tasty carcinogens in delightful orgy of sensual, gastronomic lust.

Nom nom nom

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Amen. I think the vegans or vegetarians would not bully you into eating grass. Just like sheep and cows, they eat their own grass, you can have your orgy on meat.

Like that also want to tekan them.

Anonymous said...

One maybe invited, however, no host will force the invited to be present if the guest(s) has any misgiving about the food and drink.
If one is kind and spiritual enough, he/she will NEVER blame anybody(host/giver) for not catering to their superstitious need.
Anyone who is enlightened will NEVER IMPOSE ON OTHERS AND ALWAYS BE FORGIVING ESPECIALLY WITH REGARDS TO ONES' OWN IDIOSYNCRASY.

Matilah_Singapura is a living god when it comes to religions.

Matilah_Singapura said...

redbean knows how to push my buttons. all he has to do is pos something about religion or N Korea, and he can rest assured of an "offensive" response from yours truly :-)

I'm happy to oblige.

Fuck your god one more time