Let's take a break from my "Remembering my Central America trip" posts, shall we?
Yesterday evening I watched a documentary on TV about "Ramadan" and a guy talked about how much he appreciated his Christian friends for not cursing, drinking alcohol or smoking in his presence. He used words like "respect" and "tolerance".
This made me think of the first evening in Mexico City. At the restaurant I chose the meat dish on the menu without thinking. The server left with our order and only then I remembered that my friend was a vegetarian. Out of respect, I asked her if it was okay for me to eat meat and she assured me that she had no problem with me eating meat in front of her.
Both times, my mind produced one question: do I need to become someone I am not to respect and tolerate the person who has not my same beliefs?
A part of me yelled no (I strongly believe in freedom and in being who you are), the other yelled yes (I also strongly believe in respect and tolerance). But then I realized that I was asking the wrong question. I thought of John F. Kennedy's words:
Not cursing or drinking alcohol in front of a practicing Muslim (or Christian) or asking if eating meat in front of a vegetarian is NOT a sign of a lack of commitment to my own beliefs.
I thought it was about becoming someone I am not when it's actually about strength.
It's BECAUSE I am strongly committed to my own beliefs that I can accept the others for who and what they are.