There are a few foods my wife refuses to eat, Brussels Sprouts, any kind of Pea, cooked Carrots, biscuits and gravy, Okra, Meatloaf, Lamb, Duck, and sadly for a girl who has NEVER lived outside of the South, Grits. She has a reason, or excuse depending on your point of view, for not liking each of these and after thirty plus years of marriage I have given-up trying to change her point of view…..mostly.
Last night I made barbecued baby-back ribs, twice baked potatoes and grilled Brussels Sprouts that I marinated in sugar and soy sauce. Not to toot my own horn but everything was delightful and very tasty. She tried two Brussels Sprouts but they were doomed for failure because they are Brussels Sprouts and on her fifty plus year old list of foods she simply doesn’t like.
There aren’t many foods I don’t like or won’t at least try. I don’t like raw celery but will eat it cooked. I don’t like raw Sushi, or as I refer to it, bait, but will eat those Sushi items with grill marks. And I don’t like liver. Any kind of liver, chicken, goose or beef. My wife says she doesn’t eat Meatloaf or peas because growing up her mother served them all the time. No one understands her disdain for Grits. Honestly given her pedigree it is sacrilegious, but as a family we have dealt with it and simply worked around it.
All of us go through life with preconceived notions about many things. Growing up one of our neighbors was anti-Jew. I am not sure why given that the guy he worshiped every Sunday was a Jew. But I remember a few of the characteristics he used to describe Jewish people; cheap, money-grubbing, big noses, with nagging fat wives.
Growing up I didn’t know any Jews and we certainly didn’t talk about Jesus’s Jewishness at the Southern Baptist Church we attended for a short while. What I did “learn” from my enlightened religious leaders was that the Jews killed Jesus which combined with the facts that they were cheap, money grubbers, with big noses, and nagging fat wives could have or should have clouded my perception of the Jewish race for the rest of my life.
Fortunately it didn’t because my parents wouldn’t allow it. Jews, Blacks or Asians wouldn’t become my Brussels Sprouts because of the efforts my Mother and Father undertook to educate their children through their example. We were thrown out of our Church because my Father brought a black man to the Sunday service he was interviewing for a job. One of my Mother’s co-workers invited us to Synagogue during Passover, a visual and oratory feast for a young southern boy unlike any I had ever experienced.
Each of us has our Brussels Sprouts and that’s okay. But when our Brussels Sprouts become people, a race of people, a religion of people, a sexuality of people, a nationality of people then it becomes more than a dislike for a vegetable, it becomes hate.
Hate is a learned behavior, cultivated on ignorance and extended through generations. Hate is not extinguished through tolerance but with education, understanding and love. You may tolerate Brussels Sprouts because your mother will give you a cookie if you clean your plate. But when you leave your mother and the cookies end how tolerate will you be then?