Marilyn Huebel, a very good friend of mine in Chicago, writes a weekly blog, much like I do. A couple Mondays ago she posted “Vinegar on Spinach.” I really liked the post, and asked her if I could share it on my blog sometime. She agreed, and today’s the day you get to read it. If you want to read more from her blog, follow this link: http://monday-muser.blogspot.com/.
Vinegar on Spinach
Going to a friend’s for supper on a school night was rare, but there I was with Bonnie at her family’s dinner table. This was an era when families sat down together as soon as dad got home from work to eat meat-and-potatoes meals prepared by stay-at-home moms. That evening, as the dishes were passed, I saw there was spinach. I put some on my plate and remember commenting that lots of second graders didn’t like spinach, but I did. Then I looked around for the vinegar. In my house we put a few drops of vinegar on cooked spinach, poured carefully from the small cut glass carafe kept just for that purpose. There was no vial of vinegar on the table, so I watched to see what this family did. As the butter dish was passed, everyone took some and put a pat of butter on their spinach. I did too. Thus came one of my first experiences of ‘people do it differently’ and discovering I could enjoy those differences.
Do you remember a similar circumstance that awoke the idea of options and seeing that there is more than one way?
Part of me wants to end this musing right here, offering a nostalgic reflection that might make you smile and think of your own awakening to the concept of preferences. But part of me pushes on to wonder about paring down today’s world problems screaming in the headlines to vinegar vs. butter. From fashion to football to foreign policy there are differing opinions and options. Those options can make or break reputations or fortunes. The consequences of those differences can result in life or death.
When the prevailing opinion informs us to buy blue or orange, wear wide or skinny ties, short or long skirts, we may go along, wanting to fit in. One team studies the opposing team’s strategies and go-to plays. Local and global issues become so complicated that I wonder if anyone truly understands them for often there are deep historical complexities and discord is the norm. Yet people, individually and collectively, can cross the line from option to judgment to right vs. wrong. We stop seeing a person, a culture, a nation, a whole, and see only the issue that divides us.
Certainly there are rights and wrongs in the world and things worth fighting for. Let’s not confuse those things with tribal preferences of vinegar vs. butter.
“To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.” Robert Louis Stevenson