Dare to choose your soup

“Spinach pie with soup!”, “spinach pie!”, “with soup!” A tall lady, all clad in light blue,were weaving her way through the cafe, holding a tray with steaming plates up in the air. It smells delicious, but no one takes her offer. Most are looking up to see if the situation will be solved, then they hastily looks away as if being afraid of having their dinner choice challenged. Any thing but spinach pie and soup. At the third time the spinach with sides are carried around an old, frail man is looking up, asking meekly” vegan pie?” “Just as I said” the still smiling waitress is beaming while she puts the tray on his table “spinach pie with soup!”
He looks quickly down, as if he is ashamed of not having used the approved cafe vocabulary.
As for the rest of us, we all feel relieved. The slightly nervous cloud lifts and we all returns to our chatting, relaxing and eating non spinachy fare.
I am having cauliflower soup with fennel,which actually is Brussels sprouts and cabbage with caraway-seeds, and wonder what happened.
We were not challenged on any moral choices, we were not asked to contribute in any way, actually we were not involved at all. Still, the room had been heavy with the dread of “not pleasing” “not being good” and the will to be accommodating and helpful.
I am a person who never does anything illegal, yet still gets restless when I spot the highway patrol in my rear window. I am the one who could feel the need to explain to the usher in church that I already have donated. I am the one who need to tell the other parents why I am not standing as PTA representative, even when no one has called my name.
I think there might be two clues to behavior like this. One is our need of external confirmation, to be in with the right crowd, which is good only if the “confirmators” share our real values. An other is our conscience constantly challenging us to be sure our choices are valid, which is good only if we have established our own value accountability. How do I have to behave to contribute to the society I want to build? If I am not able to understand the connection between my choices, my acts and the consequences of them I will have no way of knowing if my choices are ethically sound. I will have no way of holding myself responsible, far less anybody else.
The soup affair was in a special setting, a “green” cafe with pictures of some guru on every wall. That is how little it took to make ordinary upright citizens question the simplest choice.
What then does it take when something that matters is at stake? Whose influence may make us unable to stand by our values? What does it take to know which values we may never abandon?

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4 thoughts on “Dare to choose your soup

  1. Oh Solveig, you and I are so much alike. I read Lanny the 3 circumstances you listed starting with “I am the one….” He snorted laughter, because it sounded just like me!! On Thursday we head to Ohio for our nephews wedding. The wedding is on the 15th, and them on the 16th we start 4 days of visiting my relatives in Ohio and Kentucky. My cousin is planning a “Hansjergen Family Reunion” and is happily preparing picture boards, slide shows and a video! It should be fun!

    • Thank you Kate and thanks for the link, I’ll check it out! What really surprises me is that the “right” setting can make it uncomfortable t stick to an uncontroversial choice. To understand that a person may be afraid of doing the “right thing” when something really is at stake is easier, even if we all want to be courageous and morally upright. There are so many psychological elements in this, I think, many of which we are not aware of, I do think it helps to make myself aware though.

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