The Internet click-bait quiz says that my dislike of fish says that I love to have fun, enjoy festive parties, and am very outgoing. Internet quizzes are ubiquitous on Facebook. This particular quiz was titled “What Your Least Favorite Foods Say About You”. I suppose the main purpose of these tests is to gather personal data for some consulting company that sorts people into aggregates for commercial use, or maybe it’s from the CIA so they can weed out non-seafood eating terrorists.
Anyway, fish was the least favorite choice from the short multiple choice list. My actual least favorite food did not even appear on any of the questions. In the end, and as expected, the quiz did not tell me anything more than a generic newspaper astrology column could. The results were vague and could apply to anybody.
So, what is my least favorite food item? It’s okra. Okra triggers my gag reflex. Even if okra is a stealth casserole ingredient, the taste-buds detect it and makes me want to choke. My aversion to okra says nothing about my personality, it might only mean that my body is somehow telling me to avoid that particular food. I suspect that this dislike of okra is genetic because several of my cousins also detest it.
There may be a cultural aspect to liking or disliking okra. There is the stereotype of people who grew up in the southern states of the US that everyone there loves okra and chows down on the stuff every day. Perhaps the people who created the food hating quiz were born and raised in Tennessee. Who knows for sure?
Could this aversion to okra be a manifestation of avoidance and maybe a type of hatred? Since hatred, in general, is a major problem for people and society, it is worth some serious attention. From time to time, it is helpful to take inventory of all of our aversions and prejudices. So, it is a good idea for me to not only acknowledge my dislike of okra, but also to unpunctuality. Why do I feel personally insulted when somebody arrives late to a business situation or a social date?
When analyzing aversions, we understand that aversion is denial, resistance and avoidance of certain things, circumstances, and people we don’t like. We seem to instinctively prefer to have only things and situations that are comfortable, satisfying, and pleasant most or all of the time.
Since the world is uncomfortable, dissatisfying, and unpleasant much of the time we feel negatively about many things about the world. We find ourselves in vicious cycles of hatred and conflict. We become occupied with strategies regarding avoidance, self-protection, and even harming what or who we dislike. When aversion goes unchecked, we become parties to conflict and enmity in society. This hostility is not only harmful to others, it is poison to ourselves.
So, not only is it wise for me to be aware of the aversion to okra, it is also important to contemplate my aversion to rude, unpunctual behavior. Why is it when an acquaintance is late to arrive at a mutually agreed upon appointment, that I feel anger and hostility? Why is habitual lateness one of my pet peeves? Do I subconsciously want unpunctual people to become my enemies?
To remedy this social aversion, it is wise to remember acceptance and understanding. Perhaps the acquaintance is late because of an unforeseen reason. Maybe road traffic was more congested than usual. Maybe his car had mechanical problems. Perhaps he overslept because of a medical condition. When we remember such reasons we activate the antidotes to mental poisons–acceptance and compassion.
Experience shows us that when we let go of an aversion, we become more calm, feel less lonely, less threatened, more secure, more adequate, and more open to happiness. We become more skillful when dealing with people who seem annoying or unlovable.
When we think deeply about our aversions, we might wish that other people would also analyze their aversions.
Instinctively, I know that people who enjoy eating okra are not bad people. I accept okra eaters and their right to enjoy okra. I also accept the fact that okra is not for me. There are possibly biological reasons for okra reactions. So the concepts of okra-liking and okra-disliking are both OK.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quote writer Rosemary Mahoney. “Aversion toward the blind exists for the same reason that most prejudices exist: lack of knowledge. Ignorance is a powerful generator of fear. And fear slides easily into aggression and contempt.”