June 20, 1991

A Matter of Taste

No pleasure ever lasts long enough.

Propertius, 25 B.C.

How do YOU eat an oreo cookie?

Don't snicker; this is a very profound question. It is a measure of how you deal with pleasure. Some people just eat it. Others break it apart. Of those who break it apart, some will eat the inside frosting first, some will lick the frosting slowly. I separate the cookie and eat the part without the icing first and save the best for last.

It's all a matter of how you have been taught to deal with pleasure. Some plunge right in, others postpone gratification. There are many variables. They are a matter of taste.

Obviously, nothing of any importance hinges on how you eat an oreo. With regard to sex, it becomes very important. At one extreme are people who plunge right in and take whatever they can get whenever they can get it. At the other extreme are those who eschew sex entirely. Most people fall between those extremes. Obviously, as any clergyman can tell you, chastity or continence is a mark of a person's control over his/her animal instincts. It is also safe. Others see it as silly not to enjoy what there is to enjoy, while "sensible" hedonists know enough to avoid the traps of disease and unwanted pregnancy.

Members of various groups see different people as foolish or inferior. No one is likely to change his opinions as a result of what I write. This is mirrored in attitudes about sex education. One group feels that self control should be emphasized while the other feels that kids will do IT anyway and we should teach them to protect themselves. Note that I use the word "feel". It should be obvious that we are dealing with feelings that are deeply embedded in a person because of how he was raised. There is little actual logic involved.

I could say that my attitude is logical and yours is emotional. Since I had a childhood and learned to postpone gratification, it is obvious that my attitude is no more grounded in reason than is your's.

A large segment of the world population believes that females should not indulge in sex before marriage and should have a single partner in a lifetime. Of these, most believe that a male should be allowed as much sex as he can get with as many partners as he can find. To say the least, there is a mathematical imbalance here. If all females believed this, all men would have to content themselves with a single sex partner or, if polygamous, only with the spouses he can afford. Obviously this doesn't happen anywhere in the world. What happens is that females are divided into two groups, some being respectable and under used, while others are not respectable and are over used.

The prevalent worldwide attitude seems to be what I do is OK and what you do is sinful.

One purpose of this essay is to try to convince people that others, while not agreeing with me have, nevertheless, a reasonable opinion to which they are entitled by the common courtesies of a mixed-cultural society.

The advantage and disadvantage of a multicultural society is that one culture cannot help but undermine the teachings of another. It requires no special effort. Children see how others live and if their way of life seems better, or more fun they will be influenced. The major problem is that every child can see the disadvantages of his own culture and may be unaware of the long term advantages of his own culture.

The only solution for a religion or culture that wants to maintain the status quo, is complete isolation. If they do not remain isolated, they will loose some of their children to other cultures. Isolation is exactly what many groups have opted for and, despite this, they can't keep their children from being exposed to the rest of the world. All cultures have been "contaminated" by other cultures. What European cultures are is a mixture of various cultures and languages. They evolved to their present form over time, and will continue to change. The Middle European Jewish culture has almost vanished, including the language. Parts of other cultures have been incorporated by the Jews, and parts of their culture has been incorporated into the dominant culture. There are still fundamentalist Jews who are trying to preserve the old culture, but they are a small minority, even in Israel.

Cultures that have survived despite their lack of isolation have been those that made compromises between the way that they wanted things to be and the way that things actually were.

How did I get from Oreo cookies to here? Damned if I know!

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