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Living Today by Roldan Sevillano Jr.

    Eating with your hands

I love Folklorama. I love everything about it. It’s just one of those things that make me so proud to be a Winnipegger. The theme for this year’s Folklorama was “Celebrating culture and diversity.” I don’t believe there’s anything more beautiful in humanity than when people of different, often conflicting, ways of life can come together, hand in hand, celebrating one another’s differences. That’s what Folklorama is all about; breaking down the walls of fear to build an island of understanding.

You see when you really think about it, many of the world’s conflicts today and in the past have taken place on the basis of fear. We are naturally fearful of what we don’t understand. It’s a perfectly human reaction to look at someone with strange eyes when you’ve never seen them before.

Imagine for a moment if today you were the first Filipino ever in Canada. Imagine if someone saw you at the dinner table with one foot on the chair, the other foot on the floor, eating fish with a plate of rice, a bowl of sawsawan, using nothing but your hands. I can certainly appreciate their reaction, but to me, I call that dinner at Mom and Dad’s house.

What is so normal to us can be perceived as strange, unorthodox and even uncivilized to others. The same can be said for the colour one’s skin or the belief in a different God. Racism and discrimination still exist today not because we don’t understand, but because we don’t want to understand. If you remove all the negative influences around us, I believe that every person deep down inside shares the capacity to love.

As a person of faith, I don’t believe we ever were built to hate, resent or destroy. We were given the gift of choice and I look at choice the same way I look at fire. It can be used to form steel and build civilizations but the same can be used to destroy it as well.

I believe the ultimate solution to acceptance will only come on the day when all people share the common understanding to view every choice they make through the lens of responsibility and compassion. Having said that, I leave you with this simple challenge: if you chose to eat with your hands, do it with your head held up high, as long as you appreciate those who use knives and forks. That, my friends, is how you celebrate culture and diversity.

Give love and acceptance to those you encounter and watch what happens – Wayne Dyer

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