I don’t indulge in bowls of sorbet very often, yet the idea of cleansing the palate appeals to me. Whenever I play poker with my brothers and a few friends, and it’s my turn to deal, I choose to play straight poker (no wild cards) as a means of cleansing the poker palate after several hands of crazy wild card games such as Kings and littles, blind baseball, low in the hole, fours whores and mustached men (one basically needs five of a kind to win that last one). In a similar vein, I decided to cleanse the Christmas wish palate with something a little different for my last column of the year.
(It was published yesterday, the 22nd, even though the Metro website lists it as a December 08 column).
(Source: Des souhaits étranges. Journal Métro, December 22, 2009)
Let’s be honest. Haven’t we all wanted a boa constrictor for Christmas? OK, OK, maybe not all of us, but I’m sure we’ve all had some pretty odd dreams over the years. In my own case, the snake was my second attempt to have a cool pet after my mother totally vetoed my request for a chimpanzee. “C’mon, Ma, a monkey! What’s so bad about a monkey!?”
She wouldn’t budge. Go figure.
Of course I’ve matured over the years. I no longer wish for unattainable things like exotic pets. Instead I wish for an end to suicide bombings, child slavery, ignorance, dishonest politicians, wanton waste of resources, etc. All right, I suppose I’m just as delusional as I ever was. Nevertheless, we can always dream.
Here are two things that I hope are still within reach.
Learning the source
My first wish is for people to learn the source of many of the problems they complain about. If you want to know why countries go to war, for example, you need only to look around you. You will easily see intolerant attitudes, bias, “us” VS “them” thinking, closed-mindedness, and blind loyalty, to name a few.
These attitudes create an adversarial world where it becomes easy to blame others for all our problems. Our lack of critical thinking – the failure to question our assumptions – results in the all-too-easy tendency to attribute our personal frustrations to outside factors and find fault in the acts and opinions of others.
My second wish is for people to understand that respect for the individual can go a long way toward solving most of the problems listed above. Root causes require root solutions. Respect for the individual is the antidote to intolerance, conflict, and abuse. This means tolerating people who have different world views than us, accepting people who simply look different, and not taking advantage of people who are vulnerable.
Respecting others is the best way to earn respect for yourself.
No easy feat
Of course when we wish for a lofty ideal, it is much easier said than done. I still struggle on occasion with my own personal failings. For example, every year my mother says to me, “I don’t want a present. I just want your respect.”
“Sorry, Ma, you ain’t gettin’ it. Here’s a Poinsettia instead!”
I guess I’m still bitter about the monkey.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
23 Dec 2009