Sunday, February 15, 2015

Practising Tolerance: Dog Meat and Gay People

Just to say this upfront, this has nothing to do with investing, but this is something more about a frame of mind and a thought process. People are probably not going to agree with my opinion, but then again, this is the Internet, and this is where I can babble (pretty much) whatever I want.

Before we begin, answer these simple questions first:
  1. Are you a vegetarian?
  2. Why are you not a vegatarian?
Now, I would imagine that most people we encounter in Singapore are not vegetarian. US estimates about 3-5% of their population are vegetarian, while there are no official statistics for Singapore.

Why do we eat meat? I think the answer that most people would agree is that it is tasty.

However, one of the things that I learnt when I went to Korea is that it is one of the few places in the world known to eat dog meat.

When I heard about this, I enthusiastically told some of my friends that I would like to try some dog meat when I went to Korea. Oh boy. Wrong move. Sudden outrage and looks of disgust. "How can you eat a dog?", they said, while lecturing me on my morales.

I imagine putting bits of it on a spoon, placing it in my mouth, chewing it, followed by swallowing it.

I like dogs. I really do. In fact, when I can in the future, I would like to adopt a dog as a companion and pet, and maybe one day raise a puppy. I love playing with all my friends' dogs. I strongly identify myself as a dog person.

So, why would I eat dog meat? Well, it is like other meat, no? People eat all sorts of meat in all sorts of cultures, but the only real taboo is human meat.

I think the revulsion of dog meat is a very strong western concept. We can't eat them because they are pets? Well, pets for you maybe. Horses are pets to people as well, and they get eaten too. Frogs are a common pet is the US, but oh man, I would like to have some kung pao frog legs with porridge right now. Some people also keep pigs and chickens as pets, I don't have to tell you how that turns out. 

People in Korea has been eating dog meat for many many years. In fact, they even have a specific kind of dog for meat. They don't just catch random dogs off the street, kill them, and eat them. However, the open mindset to their own culture is slowly changing. Many blame it on the Seoul Olympics, which opened up Korea to the scrutiny of the world. Since then, much of the younger generation has shyed away from it because they think it is embarrassing to indulge in dog meat. Not because they don't like it. Many of them have never even tried it. They have just been told by the international media THAT IS JUST WRONG.

To be clear, it is illegal to sell dog meat in Korea, but it is just one of those things that no one really cares about. Like jaywalking, at 3am, across an empty road.

In the western world, eating dog meat is outrageous. It's like both murder and animal abuse rolled into one.

In Korea, they see it as, "okay, whatever you want to eat, that's your own problem". They are not opposed to it, even though they do not indulge in it themselves. The option is open for people who want to try it, and for those that don't, well, they just don't try it.

Just like how our vegetarian friends don't give us judging looks of disgust when we eat meat.
Or like how our Muslim friends don't lecture us when we eat pork.

Why does it matter what I eat? Should I be concerned about what you eat? You can eat whatever you feel like. Veges, meat, paper, your booger, your toe nails, whatever. Just don't force me or lecture me to eat what you are eating, okay?

The way I see it is, why should it matter to YOU what I eat?

If I was on a diet, should everyone not eat fried and oily food as well? Of course not. My friends can all share a bucket of delicious KFC fried chicken while I eat the coleslaw. I still get to eat what I want to eat. But I don't have to force everyone to also think and behave the way that I behave, especially when it has got nothing to do with me.

People in Singapore pride themselves for being tolerant and having racial and religious harmony. I don't doubt that at all. In fact, I am very proud to tell curious foreigners about the tolerance and understanding that is here in Singapore. However, this tolerance seems to only be restricted to racial and religious issues.

The exact same thought process and the logic is lost when translated to other issues.

Does anyone have the right to say that you should believe in one religion over another? I don't think so. So, why do people feel that they have the right to tell you what you can eat and who you can be with?

My friend in Korea was telling me that in Korea, there are no such thing as gay people.

"What?! No gay people?", I replied.

Well, of course there are some. But no one is publicly gay. Everybody hides it, not just from their family, but also from co-workers and even friends. Their entire culture shames it, and they see it as something wrong. Something that should be shamed if done, and fixed if possible.

Gay people of the opposite sex even go so far as to arrange marriage with each other, just so their families will not harass them, but it is in fact just a marriage in title only. Both "husband" and "wife" go on seeing their own respective partners.

Just yesterday, I saw 2 lesbians in Singapore publicly holding hands. When I saw that, it reminded me of this whole issue that my friend was explaining to me about. In Singapore, we are actually much more free than we realize, and I smiled at that thought.

If seeing or hearing about homosexuals or people eating dog meat makes your blood boil, then you my reader, need to learn a lesson on tolerance. If not, may a vegan and Muslim simultaneously punch you in the face the next time you eat bahkwa.

Anyway, this is just something to think about. I really don't like double standards, and I am glad I have thought about these issues and have a clear stand on them.

Now, at this point, I would like to end my post. Some people after reading this post, or even parts of it, might feel very obliged to share with me their expert opinions about their moral high ground. Sure, say whatever you want, but you better observe my house rules.

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