The “Imposing” Mentality

While I read and commented about Pradeeps latest post I recognised that my comment became very long and turned in another direction, so I decided to write the whole story here (I am sure, there are similar stories out there, but I will add my 2 cents anyway).

A few years ago I was working Bahrain (Middle East, 1 hour north of Dubai).
Once a year there is a fasting period called “Ramadan”.
During that time it was legally not allowed to drink, eat, smoke or what-ever-stimulates the body (yes, *that* included) and mind.
This law applied to all inhabitants; Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Out of courtesy I respected that law in public and when I was at other working collegues offices.
Luckily for me, I had my own office, so I would have a drink and snacks stashed (no food places open, mind you) in my drawer; hidden when others were around (the law had fines attached of course.)

Our office boy Ali still brought me my coffee and when I asked him why he is so calm about me not fasting or even drinking during the day, he just said: “It is my faith and I need to have a strong will and not be tempted by others.”

This made me speechless, cause it was such a beautyful and insightful statement.

Why should something which I decide to follow for *myself* be imposed to *others*?

I personally don’t eat tuna and will never travel to the USA; but I would (hopefully) never force others to follow my lead (regardless if I would have the power to make them so or not).

I also quit smoking in 1997 at a KISS concert in Hamburg, but I am okay with people smoking in my vicinity and even enjoy a cigar or shisha every now and then.
==> “It is my decision and I need to have a strong will and not be tempted by others.” (Ali, Bahrain)

I think, there are many, many examples for this:
– Vegetarians versus carnivores
– Non-smokers vs. smokers (even more extreme: ex-smokers vs. smokers)
– Religion A vs. religion B
– Metrics vs. non-metrics
– Tuna eaters vs. non-tuna eaters
– etc.pp.

I like to end with a quote, which I never understood when we had that topic in school, but as I grow older, I respect it more day by day:

“Die Freiheit des Einzelnen hört da auf, wo die Freiheit des Anderen beginnt.”
(The freedom of the individual stops where the freedom of others begins.)
Loosely taken from Immanuel Kant.

If I had to make a wish for the new year (and any new year to come), it would be that humankind would learn step by step to live with each other and try to accept the other as much as possible.

(It might be sociological not possible, since human tend (and need) to define themselves in “groups/peers”, but it is nevertheless my wish:
“.. Characteristics shared by members of a group may include interests, values, representations, ethnic or social background, and kinship ties..” Wikipedia