Thanksgiving dinner wound down last night, and conversation resumed. A comment was made about cigarette smokers and soon we began discussing the ways various municipalities were using laws to curb smoking in public places. The overall tone was of acceptance. We are all non-smokers.
I piped up in my usual devil’s advocate, buck the trend style, that as a former puffer, I felt the trend was discriminatory. Americans are free to kill themselves if that’s what they want. The rebuttal (weak, I thought) was of the dangers second-hand smoke. Being the host, I felt unusual restraint and let the conversation turn. What I wanted to point out is how free non-smokers are to not frequent establishments that smokers prefer, to not associate with others who smoke if the habit is bothersome.
I wanted to point out that Americans need to get back to a culture of acceptance, inclusiveness and compassion of others. We’ve lost whatever meager gains we’ve made over the past fifty years toward a society modeled after a core belief in religious freedoms and the attendant mentality of acceptance of diversity. (Placeholder for deleted political dig.) As a Buddhist, I feel we need to remember the teachings of our founders during this weekend of National Pride.
Remember the "Great Melting Pot ™?" I’ve often quipped it’s more like a chunky stew, but lately it seems more like and oil-and-water mix. We need to get back to basics, get back to a compassionate, people-centric world of open minds, open hearts, and the understanding that others will do what we wish they wouldn’t - and that’s alright, too.