Speaking of Olives…

There’s no accounting for taste.

Take pizza, for example.  Myself, I’m a traditionalist.  Pepperoni, mushroom, and jalapenos (ok, maybe the jalapenos are a little unorthodox). Pizza perfection! But please, don’t corrupt my pizza with the horror of olives.

My wife Joanne, on the other hand, for some strange reason, likes olives on her pizza.  Despite my gentle encouragement to her to recognize olives as the abomination they are, she stands by her affection for the gastronomic monstrosities.

Like I said, there’s no accounting for taste.

Even though Joanne and I stand at opposite ends of the olive continuum, we manage to live together quite happily.  We accommodate each other.  Sometimes we order pizza with olives, and I pick them off and give them to her.  Sometimes we order pizza without olives, and she sprinkles them uncooked over her slices.  Peace reigns in our home.

Those principles of respect for each other and accommodation of differing preferences apply to society in its broader expression.  We live with a dizzying array of diversities.  There is a smorgasbord of churches and faith communities before us.  Our ancestries, drawn from every corner of the world, paint a wonderfully riotous picture.  There is no end to the languages we speak, the styles of clothes we wear, and the assortment of foods that we enjoy.

To me it is a sign of God’s grace that the many faith communities of our region stand true to their particular beliefs and customs while showing respect and affection to other traditions.  With thanksgiving we have seen people move into our area, as immigrants or refugees, and then be shown gentle courtesy and a warm welcome.  Gratefully, we can testify that our society cares for the elderly, the young, the sick, and the poor.

We do well to remember, however, that following the noble path requires ongoing commitment and stalwart attention on our part.  The Creator has blessed us, and asks us to follow his leading in building a just society.  The temptation remains to fall back into racism, or greed, or fear.  We can hide in our enclaves and fail to embrace our diversity. But then we are diminished, to our shame and the Lord’s sorrow.  Let it be otherwise.

I commit to smiling on you as you order olives on your pizzas.  Just don’t make me eat them!