Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cultural Awareness?

It seems that hospital staff in the Lothians have been advised not to eat at their desks/work stations. Now I can think of several reasons why such a policy might be a good idea for hospitals. After all, mouths aren't exactly the cleanest things on earth and constantly putting your hands to your mouth at your workspace might be a bad idea. But that's not the reason for the new policy. The reason for this new policy is that the hospital doesn't want to offend Muslims who are currently fasting during Ramadan. This policy was presented in an e-mail that also included some items such as allowing Mulsims time to pray during Ramadan and to celebrate Eid.

From the article:
"Jim McCaffery, director of acute services and workforce at NHS Lothian, said: "This e-mail was circulated to a number of senior managers as we continue to promote cultural awareness in our organisation.""

Regarding allowing time for Mulslims to celebrate their holiday as they believe it should be celebrated, I fully agree. I have some rather differing views on religion than most of my work colleagues and I understand and appreciate making reasonable accommodations for religious reasons. What I don't understand is expecting the non-Muslim portion of the hospital to change their habits. So what if they eat? I see people eat on days I fast. Big deal.

Fasting is significantly harder in an environment where you're the only one (or one of only a few) doing it. It's easy to forget. You might get your morning coffee without thinking about it. You might be tempted to eat when you're not supposed to. It's hard. Just like not eating unclean food is hard. I can't even eat at Cajun restaurants because they find a way to put sausage and/or crawfish in every darn thing they make. Why is there sausage in my tea?!!!

That's part of religious tolerance though. Religious tolerance isn't walking on eggshells so that you don't offend someone with different beliefs than your own. It's acknowledging that not everyone believes the same thing as you and doing your best to do the right thing despite what the rest of the world does.

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