A Glimmer of Hope Amid the Muck

One of my guilty time-wasting pleasures is reading online newspapers. When I really feel like procrastinating, I read the comments too.

Mostly comments on news sites are godawful. The comments section of any news site is the absolute underbelly of the internet, where every troll comes out to show their true colours. If I need a quick dose of spite, misogyny, homophobia, and general unpleasantness to remind me of how human (all too human) we are, the comments section of any given news site will serve quite nicely.

Then, in the most unlikely of places, a comment stopped me in my tracks enough to spur me to blog about it. I say in the most unlikely of places because this was an article on Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, asking for advice on what to do about being continually invited to a neighbour’s dinner parties, where the only meal ever served is overcooked beef tenderloin and salad. Imagine — it’s a kind of First World Problem turned into a nightmare serial of mile-wide, inch-deep proportions. The comments almost universally castigated this callous couple and their ingratitude towards their kindly neighbours who perhaps prefer their beef well-done (and so what?).

Then I read the following:

10:55 AM on August 23, 2011
I had an uncle who lived through the holocaust in Auchwitz and Bergen Belsen as a child. As an adult, he kept strictly Kosher at home including seperate dishes and dishwashers. He also put 18 cents (the Hebrew number that correspons to the word for life) into a jar for every meal he and anyone else in his home ate, which was later donated to charity.

However, if he went to anyone else’s home, he ate whatever he was given. No requests. No special meals, no demands. If he went to your generous friend’s house he would eat anything they gave him, even pork ribs, then go home and put 18 cents into a jar to be thankful for the food and for being alive.

Perhaps you can think about that the next time well cooked beef tenderloin doesn’t meet your requirements in generously offered food and friendship.

This comment took a spurious complaint by a not-so-neighbourly couple, and in not even 200 words spun it into real lesson, especially relevant in this age of uber-foodie-ism and entitlement complexes. I might just be putting 18 cents in a jar for each meal I enjoy from now on.