The Pepper Principle
The last time I made this dish, and I’ve made it plenty, my husband inhaled the stuffing and dove into the pepper with the enthusiasm of a cat in a bathtub. It was the first time I noted his reluctance towards the vegetarian vessel.
Turns out he likes a more softened green pepper compared to the crunchy variety I enjoy.
Since that day not long ago, I’ve become curious with the general concept of making small accommodations for the happiness of others.
When does a slight accommodation become the antithesis of your principle?
Wars have been started over something as simple as a crunchy pepper.
Over the holidays, my family and I embarked on many flights. My luggage was lost - on both ends - and the impossibly packed airplanes usually resulted in pre-flight requests by the attendant to either switch seats or stow luggage that could not fit into the overhead bins. Usually, the requests were met with a pregnant pause until someone gave in for the benefit of us all. Without a small child seated next to his mother or loose luggage stowed securely, we were stuck on the tarmac.
But, in all honesty, are we not entitled to the seat and space that we have paid for?
Have you ever paid for an assigned seat? If you have, it was to sit with those you love or enjoy extra leg room. Having paid in advance, the prerogative to sit where you intended is entirely yours. But what happens when you are approached to kindly help unite a child and parent? On principle, you have every right to refuse. The only problem is you either have to attend to the child or ground the plane while the attendants solve a ridiculously complicated spatial math problem.
On one particular flight, our son ended up on his own next to a random stranger. We requested a switch with the random stranger, but he refused emphatically. He may have thought some planning on our part would have been in order to assure seats together. Sorry, sir.
Luckily, our son was old enough to enjoy a solo flight next to a grumpy passenger. But, karma intervened and moments after our son’s nose started gushing blood the determined traveler with an assigned seat could not switch fast enough!
Oh karma, you are a wily one - with a great sense of humor!
On another one of our flights, passengers were asked to give up available under-the-seat storage for four carry-on luggage items that did not fit in the overhead bins. One man was eager to help, but that was it. We were stuck on the tarmac until three more people gave in. Is it worth the stand-off? Those without room to share, even though willing, were stuck on the plane waiting, powerless to help. Despite it being the holiday season, it took several attendant requests, many guilty, darting eyes and several sighs of frustration before we finally got off the ground.
The bottom line is, when it comes to air travel, someone has to acquiesce or the plane doesn’t fly.
Sometimes life is not fair.
You have a right to your space, especially if you paid for it!
Do you ever secretly wonder what the other people on Rosa Parks’ bus was thinking when she refused to move from her seat? Was anybody on their way to work and distressed that they wouldn’t get there on time? Was there a mother with a cranky young child who just wanted to get home after a long day? Or someone on the way to the hospital to visit a sick relative? In the moment, did her principle supersede the needs of the others? Would you have been compassionate not knowing then the impact of her stand off?
In our world of increasing individual isolationism, standing our ground, making a point and, maybe most importantly, how we do it, can impact others? Can we give a little and find common ground even when it seems unfair?
The bottom line is: You get to do what you think is right. (Although, just because it is your right doesn't make doing it the right thing)
“Each day, for many days on end, a herd of wild deer had to decide which watering hole they would visit – their survival depended on it. The ritual would begin by various deer pointing their noses towards a nearby watering hole as if to say let’s go this way. Once the 51st deer of 100 pointed towards a specific watering hole, the herd would go together.”
This behavior happened time and again.
Apparently, a cooperative instinct keeps the herd together and keeps everyone alive.
These deer are on to something!
As I arrived home from our holiday trip, again without my luggage, I walked up to the United Airlines counter to fill out the lost bag claim forms. I looked over at the weary woman next to me. I felt solidarity, but more than that I noticed the title of the book she was reading: Lord, Change My Attitude.
I laughed out loud.
Well played, Universe!
Yes, it turns out the only way to make the world a considerate place, even if it feels unfair, is to first be considerate yourself.
I needed to be reminded because here I am suggesting other people make accommodations when I have no control over them. I guess I most resemble comedian Louis C.K.: “I have a lot of beliefs and live by none of them.”
It’s me. I am the problem.
So, on my march towards world peace, I’m going to start small.
Next time I make this stuffed green pepper recipe for my family, I’m going to keep a pepper crunchy for me, soften one up for my husband and serve my son the stuffing (he hates the pepper) because it’s easy to accommodate everyone.
And I choose to do it.
Peace & Light,
The Busy Buddha
Talk Back to the Trio
How do your beliefs affect the way you show up in the world?