Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Haiku 042909

small puddles
i skip over sunlight
and bits of sky


Recently, we read the following:

Associated Press: “Israeli official: Swine flu name offensive to Jews, Muslims

"The outbreak of swine flu should be renamed "Mexican" influenza in deference to Muslim and Jewish sensitivities over pork, said an Israeli health official Monday.

"Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman said the refe'ence to pigs is offensive to both religions and 'we should call this Mexican flu and not swine flu," he told a news conference at a hospital in central Israel. Both Judaism and Islam consider pigs unclean and forbid the eating of pork products.

"Scientists are unsure where the new swine flu virus originally emerged, though it was identified first in the United States. They say there is nothing about the virus that makes it 'Mexican' and worry such a label would be stigmatizing.

"Two Israelis who recently visited Mexico have been hospitalized with symptoms of the flu. Health authorities have not yet confirmed whether they actually have the virus…."


And we thought:

…. Two things: (1) Why would a mere reference to “swine” be considered offensive by Mr. Litzman? Apparently, it’s simply a term intended to describe a new strain of flu, presumably picked up from swine. Except for Mr. Litzman himself, no one else has been reported making any sort of connection between “swine flu”, on the one hand, and Judaism and Islam, on the other.

And (2) why would Mr. Litzman oppose the use of “swine flu” but, in the same breath, propose that it be called the “Mexican flu”? You wonder whether he thinks it’s not okay to offend Jews and Muslims, but it is okay to offend Mexicans. Hope that was not what he really meant. Otherwise, his perspective on this matter really seems narrow-minded and silly. It looks like he doesn’t care about anything else beyond his bit of the sky.

On the other hand, maybe Mr. Litzman was just kidding.

Anyway, it shouldn't hurt to pause and at least be open-minded about the religious and cultural concerns of others. We need to realize that, really, the sky is bigger than what we see from our part of the world....

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