My brother is getting married soon, and he and his fiance have recently sent out invitations for the big day. On the reply slip there is a space to specify dietary requirements. Personally, I understand something like this to include allergies, diabetes, vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerance, gluten free etc. Actual dietary requirements. One response states "no fish". This person has never eaten fish, and fair enough, if the main course is going to be fish they can ensure she has the vegetarian option. What is weird is that she hasn't mentioned that her husband is a diabetic. Yet weirder still is the person who wrote "no peas" on their reply. They aren't allergic to peas, they just don't like them. Apart from young children, everyone coming to the wedding is probably over the age of 26. Surely by this age you can manage to politely eat your peas, or leave them to one side if you really can't stomach them. Or is the pea-hater expecting an alternative meal to be provided?
Part of my job used to include checking the allergies of people who came into hospital. Rather than simply asking what they were allergic to, I would ask about the circumstances under which the allergy had occurred, in order to determine whether it was an allergy (in which case they wouldn't receive said medicine), an intolerance or a side effect (in which case they might, depending how much risk their illness carried). For example, I had a lot of people tell me that they were allergic to antibiotics, and the majority of these believed they were allergic because they had had a stomach ache when they took the antibiotics. Stomach aches are very unpleasant, but when the alternative is pneumonia it's probably worth it, and that's not an allergy or an intolerance, that's a side effect. One person told me she was allergic to ibuprofen and that it gave her a headache. It transpired that she had taken the ibuprofen because she had a bad cold and blocked sinuses. The headache was almost certainly due to the sinus problem.
I can't help thinking that we've become rather soft. Rather than being grateful that we have food or medicines we want to have perfect food and perfect medicines. My grandad was fond of saying that he "didn't spend three years living in a hole in the ground for this". Actually he didn't go and live in a trench because of some higher ideal either, but I believe his comment is valid: what has happened to our capacity for sacrifice? Not just sacrifice: what has happened to our capacity for minor inconvenience?