Over dinner last night, guests and I talked about how the US Supreme Court upheld marriage equality for homosexuals. My friend Greg then recounted how a good friend of his who was a foreigner wanted to hold hands with him one day while they were walking through a park.
Greg said that although his friend was not gay the idea of holding hands with another man simply repulsed him. He said that later on he found out that in his friend's country, two men holding hands while walking was quite a normal thing to do and was not an indication nor even a hint of homosexual behavior, as it could be in the US.
Eating etiquette is another program I find amusing. Emily Post admonishes against chewing noisily with an open mouth. In Asia and especially in China, smacking one's lips and making other loud noises while eating are meant to be complimentary. They are signs of appreciation for the food. The louder the sounds made while eating, the happier a host or a cook/chef is.
What we consider as acceptable and unacceptable made me think of the various "programs" we have in our psyche. Some of our "programs," such as those pertaining to gender behavior, are so deeply engrained that we automatically recoil at an idea that does not fit patterns prescribed in the programs. One of those patterns says that straight men never hold hands with another man.
Greg's story reminded me of a photo I once took. I was inside a store and found a riveting pattern in one of the items for sale. I thought that if I were to visualize the many programs and patterns that are in every person, I would see something like the photo below.
Posted with Aloha!
- By ARIEL MURPHY