I’ve harped on about the importance of tolerance and I have also confessed that I am a hypocrite, so please enjoy another one of my potentially hypocritical posts. 🙂 As per usual, I am going to start-off with a story.
When my husband was still my boyfriend, we went out on a double date with close friends, who are a married couple. We went to some sort of a Middle-Eastern Shi-Sha* establishment. It was a Turkish, Lebanese or an Afghani cafe…I cannot for the life of me remember.
Everything was going swimmingly. We took our seats, we were given menus, the time came to make our order… and that’s when things got interesting. The male waiter only asked for the orders of the males present at the table. When I said “I’d like a soy latte, please” – the waiter didn’t look at me, or take down my order. I was beside myself. My then-boyfriend had to order a coffee on my behalf and the husband of the couple we were with also had to make an order for his wife.
This was a first for me. I had never experienced anything like it before. Baffled, I was completely lost for words. I asked the present company what in the world had just happened. The couple we were with (who are of Middle-Eastern background) put forward to me that perhaps the waiter was just trying to be respectful. Oh I’m sorry; on what planet is it respectful to purposefully ignore someone’s existence?
The couple tried to explain to me that because I was with a man, the waiter was being respectful towards said man by not looking at me and pretending that I didn’t exist, which was also in turn being respectful towards me. Apparently, it was a cultural thing. I would like to say that I am not xenophobic, but this definitely hit my tolerance limit. In my mind, here I was sitting in a café in Australia experiencing some sort of blatant sexism that was being masqueraded as a “respect” and “culture” thing.
I’m not going to lie. The- “go back to whichever country you came from, waiter” thought entered my mind.
This wasn’t because I was being intolerant towards him or his culture, it’s because I believe he was being intolerant to me, and my culture and ignorant towards his surroundings.It was intolerant, it was wrong and I am sorry. As pointed out in the comment below, I can’t preach about the importance of tolerance if I myself don’t adhere to the standards that I am trying to set. In the words of Einstein, “No problem can be solved with the same level of consciousness that created it”, so it is futile to fight bigotry with bigotry.
Different societies have different standards and norms. While holding onto your own culture is important, it cannot come at the expense and degradation of the standards and norms of the society in which you reside. As far as I am concerned, if you work in hospitality as as a waiter/waitress in Australia, you are supposed to take orders from patrons of the establishment you work for, irrespective of what gender, nationality, culture etc. those patrons may be. It’s called customer-service…it’s not rocket science. Tolerance needs to work both ways…but it doesn’t mean that if it only works one way it shouldn’t work at all.
The limit to my tolerance is when I feel that it is one-sided. I do my best not to project my culture/(s) and religion/(s) onto others, is it too much for me to expect that others will do the same? In a perfect world, tolerance should know no limits. We all have work to do with regards to tolerance and acceptance. I will continue working on myself and do my best to accept and tolerate others, even if they do not (or do not know how to) accept and tolerate me…and I do expect others to work on themselves accordingly.
*Shisha smoking – also called hookah, narghile, waterpipe, or hubble bubble smoking – is a way of smoking tobacco, sometimes mixed with fruit or molasses sugar, through a bowl and hose or tube. (as defined by: https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/risk-factors/smoking/shisha)
Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled “Introduction…”.