Kazakh Proverb: “If a man insults you, serve him a meal”


Like any culture, the Kazakh people have many sayings. One I heard often was

If a man insults you, serve him a meal.

I thought I knew what this meant when I first heard it, but as the years have passed, I’m wondering about my interpretation, wondering if others might have a different take.

So I ask, What does this saying mean to you?  

And I ask my former colleagues and students, Do you think it is as true today as it once was long ago? If you do, what is that truth? Or, do you think it is a saying that has outlived its truth? If you do, what belief has replaced it?

If a man insults you, serve him a meal.

As you read this, what do you think?

As one old friend said, “It makes planning dinner a real challenge.”

Thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.


2 Responses

  1. Frank
    | Reply

    When I read the saying, I thought of a familiar expression that seems related (at least to me) — breaking bread together.

    “Sharing a meal is the oldest ritual known to humankind. Breaking bread together cements family, reaffirms community and identifies friends from enemies. To this day, investing time in menu planning, shopping, food preparation, setting the table, pairing the wine, and taking into account individual quirks say “I care.”

    Posted on June 18, 2011 by polarprisca under Travel

  2. JANET
    | Reply

    Hi Frank. So glad to see you here again. I love the connotation of Breaking bread together. It gives a sense of community suppers, somehow. Thanks for bringing it up. Do you think we “break bread” with someone with whom we are fighting? Or with someone who has just insulted us?

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