This I Believe

Bret - Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Entered on November 20, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: equality
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The Politics of Ice Cream

I love ice cream; all flavors…except mint chocolate chip (it’s already cold, why the menthol sensation?) I particularly like really good vanilla ice cream, with Dove Brand Fudge & Mrs. Renfro’s Caramel sauce drizzled (o.k….poured,) over it. I ache for the textures becoming one on my tongue. I crave the randomness of it; each spoonful dripping a slightly different proportion of each glistening confection…the only certainty is that one, or all, will run down my chin onto my shirt.

But, I know that even as I describe my version of ice cream nirvana, some one out there is imagining there own. Some are thinking Edy’s, another Ben & Jerry’s, there are the Haagen-Dazs people and the Breyer’s die hards. And, within these brands are the ever dazzling array of flavors; ready mixed scratches for each kind of itch. There are those who feel that one flavor is best, and those who want no toppings at all. There are, dare I say, too many choices. But there is one for each of us and they are all there for any of us to try. With so many choices of ice cream to chose from, who among us can say which is best?

Suddenly, I am struck by a twisted mental cartoon of a Chocolate Gestapo cramming Hersheys down the gullets of wide-eyed vanilla junkies.

And now I wonder…do they have ice cream in Iraq? What about Iran, or Syria? I understand it’s hot, so I’m hoping they do. Fond memories of my childhood chasing the ice cream truck through the summer swelter. Assuming they do have ice cream in Iraq, when was the last time the ice cream man had enough guts to go out on his Baghdad route? This time I’m struck by an image of Mr. Softee dodging bullets, or an RPG launcher sticking out of the cartoon dragons garbage can mouth.

I did not intend to write “In ice cream I believe,” but I believe in ice cream because I know it exists. Just as I believe in gender, and race, in view points, and in religions. I believe in countries and nations and planets and galaxies…merely because I know they exist.

Sadly, however, I have not been to many countries, or practiced many religions. I cannot make myself female, or black, or Hindu. I cannot will myself Asian, or gay, or elderly. So, clearly, I cannot say which I prefer best…

but the awesome arrogance of belief allows many to feel that they are so priveleged.

Sometimes I wish I could be everywhere at once, be everyone at once, be everything at once. Back when I lived in Manhattan, I almost felt I could. It seemed that the entire planet had its representatives there. Good, decent people, whose diversity from mine I hungered for. We walked through each others neighborhoods, we ate in each other restaurants and homes, we drank together, we danced together, we lived…together.

My soul’s palate still aches to taste the textures and the randomness of the world. Being somewhat older now, I have more monetary means by which to travel. However, since September 11, 2001, I refuse to fly. I think what the last thoughts of all people racing towards the ground, or the World Trade Center, may have been and I don’t want to be forced to think them. And, though I’m not afraid of anyone, or anything…I’m afraid that they are afraid of me, merely because I am an American. I suppose it has come full circle: we are each as afraid of each others beliefs.

I’d like to give an Iraqi child a strawberry ice cream cone. To see him smile while it runs down his arm, lapping up the goodness without worry. At least then I could know that he, and I, shared something…other than misconceptions.

Beliefs are dangerous because they are difficult to change…this I believe. Which is a shame…maybe there’s a dessert they make in North Korea that I would go crazy for.