Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Politeness backfiring

Why can politeness be so annoying at times? I always thought politeness is a set of rules to make social life easier. One knows how to greet, how to farewell, to talk, to walk, to eat, without offending others. Right?

Nope, actually!

The key word is 'social life'; enter a different society and completely other things are considered to be polite. Hence looking from a different angle, then this implies that those rules of politeness discriminate against individuals who behave differently.

Due to my recent Bodybuilding challenge I have entered this sensitive territory of 'food stuffs'. I have to very carefully monitor what I eat and when I eat it. So for example I do go to restaurants  which have a variety of different food and if I have a days notice, as I then can plan for it. If I am invited to pizza I will join the party for the social aspect, but not eat, as every single ingredient in a pizza is off limits for me. I am entirely happy with it as I am not missing anything. I do not feel like being on a diet, as I am eating balanced and would actually love to eat like this for good. There is just that tiny little hiccup: I am not the norm.

Politeness dictates that the host has to offer food; it dictates as well that the guest has to take it!

In not eating I am breaking this rule and an explanation is requested. This is fair enough, I started the game and I am willing to do my bit to remedy the situation.

This however is where my ranting actually begins: In my experience I not only have to provide an explanation, I have to take the mickey out of myself, I have to put on a show to entertain everybody with my ridiculous ideas, I have to be prepared to go through questioning similar to inquisition, and even after I have done all that, food and drink is offered to me in regular intervals so that I have to feel ridiculed over and over again.

If I would not eat for religious reasons, none of that would happen. One does not touch religion, does one? The politeness rule 'do not offend or tease religious people' trumps over the rule 'one must offer food'. Some years ago vegetarians or vegans had similar problems. Since this type of diet became fashionable and has created it's own society the rules have changed. Unfortunately there is no trump rule for people on a personal challenge.

The interesting thing is that generally I am getting admired for setting myself a task, people are claiming to support me, but as soon as I am touching social convention all this is forgotten. I would like people to understand that politeness is a good thing, but that it has the power to discriminate if not used sensibly. The polite thing would be, to break the rules!

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