I had a fine plate of irony for lunch this week.
What else would you call a Mexican resident who visits Salem and orders up a combination plate at a local Mexican restaurant?
Let's start with the obvious. Even though the restaurant styles itself as serving Jalisco-style food, I have never seen a plate that looks anything like this in Melaque -- an authentic Jalisco village. Not even the usual police lineup of eateries that cater to Canadian and American tastes.
But I was not there merely to eat. I was meeting my good friend, John.
You have had the pleasure of meeting him on these pages. PhD in philosophy. Family man. Raconteur.
He is a regular commenter -- under an alias. I will let you guess which.
If I ever need good conversation, I call John.
Our exchange this week was a mixture of the serious and frivolous. Our usual quasi-intellectual brew.
The spice is that the two of us could not be further apart from one another on issues of faith and government. That is what makes us such good friends. There is nothing less satisfying than talking with people who agree with your position.
We do agree on basic moral principles. Where we differ is on our conclusions.
Accepting that possibility is what makes a civilization civil. The antithesis is Somalia -- or, at least, Bosnia.
While we were talking, I thought of a young man I talked with earlier in the week. We share the same faith principles. Our notion of truth could have been painted on Plato's wall.
Where we disagree is on some of the conclusions to be drawn from those principles. I consider that ambiguity to be a sign of maturity. He views it as vague heresy.
But it is that type of strict Aristotelian thought that strangles civility on the field of conformity. It is what frightens some of us about political correctness and most forms of political and religious fundamentalism -- from both the right and the left.
It certainly leads to unpleasant lunch conversations.
John and I did not fall into that unpleasantness. When we parted, I was sorry to see him go -- and to know that will be the last lunch with him for some time.
But I can now return to Mexico and have a plate of food that I will recognize as being truly Jalisco fare.