Stanley Tibbets: [corrupting the Gestalt Prayer] I was put on this earth to do my thing…and you were put on this earth to do your thing…and if, by chance, our things should…meet…well, that’s groovy.
--Foul Play (1978)
Lots of people in the world appear to be able to agree with the basic tenets of “live and let live”, with the obvious exceptions. Your right to swing a fist ends where my nose begins, and so on. It doesn’t matter to me what you do with your life, so long as nobody is unnecessarily hurt. As Lazarus Long reminds us, “Sin lies only in hurting other people unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense. (Hurting yourself is not sinful - just stupid).”
There are folks out there, however, who insist upon shoehorning some portion of their life into others’, posing it as some form of moral superiority. A good example of this would be back in January, when the Tiger Woods thing started to really break open. “Fox News Sunday” anchor Brit Hume commented that “[Woods is] said to be a Buddhist; I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.'" In other words, My god is better than your god. That’s some strong stuff, coming from a guy who’s working on the Lord’s Day of Rest.
Frankly, I have no problem with people who hold a given point of view. I have many friends who are devout Christians who may express things as “God’s will” or feel that they’ve been blessed by something, and that’s fine. Whatever gets you to the next day is all right, in my book. I also have Jewish friends of all stripes, from the ones who walk to Temple all the way up to the ones who come to my house because I make a great shrimp boil. And if they express things in those terms, well that’s OK with me too. This may be a result of me growing up in a town that was probably half-Christian and half-Jewish at the time. Either that or I just happened to have a lot of Jewish classmates. If I find myself in Synagogue, I wear a yarmulke and do what’s needed. If I’m in church, I sit when I’m supposed to and I stand when I’m supposed to. My attitude is pretty much “Don’t jam it in my face and we’ll get along fine,” and that philosophy has carried me a long way, thanks. It never hurts to respect the other guy’s custom you know?
But this post, believe it or not, isn’t (strictly) about religion. So, before it veers into "some of my best friends are Jews" territory...
Most of you know by now that I stage a Pig Roast every year. It’s a fun little gathering that My Child Bride and I hold, “little” being defined rather like the wedding scene in the film Easy Money:
The point of the Pig Roast is to gather friends, co-workers and family together in one place for a day or so. Sometimes people come a long distance and stay in the area for a couple of days; those folks have the most fun, I think. I know of a couple of rather tight friendships that began at some of my parties, so for some they’ve been life-changers. So while a roasted pig is served, and is sort of the “centerpiece” of the day, it’s not really the point. As I noted above, I do have some friends who don’t eat the pork. I have others who don’t eat meat at all. These folks do not go hungry at my parties, any more than the people who don’t drink alcohol go thirsty. This fact, I stress repeatedly.
Having said all that, what I don’t understand is when someone feels compelled to RSVP something along the lines of “I’d come but you’re cooking a murdered animal and I can’t abide that.” This is an exaggeration, but not by much. Look, I get that you don’t eat meat but if you’re going to avoid every situation where meat is served then you’re going to be running in awfully small circles. And you’re certainly not going to convince me, or most of my friends, to come over to your side of the fence with inflammatory language, any more than Tiger Woods would be convinced by Brit Hume’s comments. So I’m not really sure what the point of expressing it that way would be, other than to express some sort of moral superiority gained through diet.
There are people who don’t really like to see the pig roasting. That’s fine, I get that. It’s especially odd-looking when you first put it over the heat. It’s one of the reasons that we cook it in the alley beyond the fence; you have to make a bit of an effort to go see it. See? I have some sensitivity.
The part I don’t get is, if I invited the same group of people to, say, a Christmas Party, it’s not as though I’d get a bunch of people declining to come “because we don’t believe in Jesus Christ and can’t be around people who do.” I did once make the mistake of inviting a Jehovah’s Witness to a birthday party; their reply was a polite “no, thank you.” I didn’t get a sermon on the reasons why JWs don’t celebrate birthdays (it’s an interesting reason, though). So why the proselytizing on this subject? I don’t know.
I’ve spent a long time composing this post because I don’t want to anger anyone or hurt feelings but I realize that in the long run, that’s probably impossible. I will say this: this is not directed at either AW or LM; you handled it just fine so far as I’m concerned. But there have been a couple of other people…wow.
This is not going to get into a debate on the merits of vegetarianism vs. carnivorism or omnivorism (and I promise I’ll delete any comments which do go that route); the fact is that, unless you’re growing literally everything that you eat, you’re contributing to the death of animals. Do you think someone walks ahead of the combine swatting mice and rabbits out of its path? However, what I’m unclear on is why this particular group of people feels it necessary to couch their reply to a party invitation in rather rude terms. Come on, people, I just thought it would be fun to hang out for an afternoon.