Today during a conversation I used a common figure of speech. The person I was talking with then asked me never to use that figure of speech around him, because it offended his beliefs. I’m deliberately not specifying the particular phrase at issue, because I think it is beside the point, given that it was an phrase nearly everyone reading this has used as a matter of course.
He told me that he requests the same thing of everyone, and that it is a question of being considerate.
This little conversational exchange completely changed my view toward him, and I found myself feeling uncomfortable around him. Not because I have any problem with his beliefs (I don’t), but rather because I have a problem with his expectation that other people must pretend to not be themselves when they are around him.
I say this as a vegan who happily sits down to eat with omnivores. And I realize that it is an important part of my belief system that one should not impose one’s own beliefs on others.
So here we have a fundamental clash of beliefs: My acquaintance believes that I should pretend to be someone I am not, out of respect for beliefs that I do not share, whereas I believe that nobody should ever be asked to pretend to be someone they are not.
I haven’t figured out yet what I am going to do about this. It seems too aggressive/excessive to say “Well then, I guess we should stop speaking to each other.” Maybe I can send him an email saying that while I respect his right to believe whatever he believes, I am not willing to make any promises.
I guess, to be accurate, I could tell him that to make such a promise would be a violation of my beliefs.
Not sure. Maybe I’ll sleep on it.