Tea and Kofi
February 16, 2007
This photo was not taken where I stop for breakfast on Friday mornings, but at a more elegant venue on the other side of the river. Even so, Ralph and Sons’ Diner is a remarkable place for the variety of its clientele, truckers on bar stools at the serving counter, serious business meetings going on at the larger tables in the corners, retired couples treating themselves to a breakfast out, and at the small tables, odd individuals like me. This morning at the table next to mine, a rabbi (I think) was conferring with someone over a cellphone; I couldn’t help pricking up my ears as I heard him ask in a resonant voice, “And what is the lesson from 1492?” Meanwhile, at the next table three smartly dressed men were looking after a little boy aged two at most, in a high chair, eating a rasher of crispy bacon with his fingers, not a woman in sight.
On the Comment page of today’s Globe and Mail I found a powerful article written by Kofi Annan, which I’m afraid say you can’t share with me on-line unless you pay a subscription fee to the globeandmail.com. In spite of what happened in Spain in 1492, Mr Annan says:
…the embrace of differences — in opinion, in culture, in belief, in way of life — has long been a driving force of human progress. During Europe’s Dark Ages, that was how the Iberian Peninsula flourished, through the interaction of Muslim, Christian and Jewish traditions…
Some centuries later, our own globalized era is regrettably marked by rising intolerance, extremism and violence…
…we remain hostage to our sense of grievance and to our feelings of entitlement. Our narratives have become our prison … The problem is never the faith; it is the faithful and how they behave toward each other.
He does have a solution to that problem, though, or at least he shows us the right attitude towards finding a solution:
We must create opportunities for young people, offering them a credible alternative to the siren song of hate and extremism. We must give them a real chance to join in improving the world order, so that they no longer feel the urge to smash it.
Later in the morning, I witnessed a Moroccan tea ceremony which was very charming, the tea-making hostess sitting in the most important chair as is traditional, a damask cloth over her lap, mixing the fresh mint leaves, the sugar and the tea in her silver teapot and pouring out the brew from a good height so that we could hear the refreshing cascade. Meanwhile her ladies in attendance carried other vessels round the room so that the welcoming smell of sandalwood smoke could waft from the censer (a silver thurible) and so that rose-water could be sprinkled onto the palms of each guest. Then the tea was handed out in those beautiful coloured glass beakers.