In 1966 a Kansas newspaper interviewed the boxer known as Cassius Clay about an upcoming fight. The boxer, more famously known as Mohammed Ali, replied: “I got different strokes for different folks.” A year later a rhythm and blues singer released a single called “Different Strokes” and used Ali’s quote in the song. It appeared a year later in the Sly and the Family Stone hit “Everyday People” and was later the impetus for the title of a television program ten years later.
Although Mohammed Ali might have put a more modern spin on the saying, it actually dates back several centuries. In the later 1500’s there was a saying “To each his own” with an accepted version being frequently heard in the 1700’s. A reader asked me what one phrase or quote defined grace. I think one of the first definitions can be traced through these sayings to the first century ACE and even earlier.
“One man’s meat is another man’s poison” is accredited to Lucretius during the first century BCE. “De gustibus non est disputandum” or “There is no accounting for tastes” was also a popular saying and it evolved into the sixteenth century French saying “Chacun a son gout” or Each to his own taste.
I stroke my pets and it is, I am certain, a much different stroke than those delivered by Mohammed Ali to an opponent. And yet, each allows for individuality. To me, grace is recognizing that we are indeed individuals. One person’s food allergies are poison to them while another might eat a great deal of the very same item with no adverse effects. This does not mean one person is better than the other. It simply means one is different from the other.
Respect is the one thing we all want and need. Living in grace means, in my humble opinion, to show respect to all. Whether you say “Different stroke for different folks” or Different stroke for different blokes”, the meaning is the same. Life can sometimes hinder us and it can be very hard. Having respect shown to us can make the journey easier. As the theme song of the television show states: “Now, the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum, what might be right for you, may not be right for some.”