“What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature.” Voltaire
“I learned that very often the most intolerant and narrow-minded people are the ones who congratulate themselves on their tolerance and open-mindedness.” Christopher Hitchens
I was discussing tolerance with a couple of people the other day, and discovered our views were so varied. I think we were all basically correct, but narrow-minded in our scope. For instance, we had no mercy for those who had great material wealth. We all felt sympathy for the poor, but would ignore the rich. If we were cut in line by a poorer looking person, we likely would say nothing, because we would feel sorry for them. If a wealthy person stepped in front of us, we would be quicker to defend ourselves. It is as if the wealthy person conjures up in us, feelings of being treated in a less than worthy manner. We almost feel guilty for the person in a lower economic bracket.
Just as we measure babies heights, and weights, among other things, wealth is a measurement of adult worth and accomplishment. The majority of us are not money wealthy, so we are sometimes jealous of those who are wealthier. Nobody ever sees this as intolerant. The wealthy are one group that can be treated poorly, in a variety of ways, yet people don’t recognize this as intolerance.It is easy to be tolerant of the obvious groups of people. It is a different story to be tolerant of those who annoy us, challenge us or are impudent to us. It might be why it is difficult for some parents to deal with misbehaving kids. They are aware of how much they give to their kids and resent the attitude they receive in return. Kids are judgmental of their parents and tolerate little. Mom and dad might have worked hard for their gains in lifestyle, only to be met with a child’s insults of being a money monger. They forget their free manner of speech, was the result of an expensive education.
We just can’t choose what days times or people we will tolerate. It must be a blanket tolerance for everyone. That is why it is so hard to express our level of tolerance, because we perhaps are not in the least exhibiting that virtue. It is difficult, but again we don’t walk in another shoes. We have no idea the struggles anyone suffers and endures. The people who complain about their issues are easy to identify, but those who hide their troubles, are harder to observe, and so feeling compassion for them is never easy.
To appreciate tolerance, one must do away with judgments of all kinds. We must take each person as they are, and accept them without exception. That means the grumpy older person, who is always complaining about our ill-behaved kids, should receive our gentle smile and kind words. That is hard I know. It is almost impossible, but by setting the goals of inclusion for all, we set high standards.
I realize most of us are probably thinking it is a stupid way to tolerate others. Why should I tolerate the bratty child, who insults my child every day. Well suppose you found out the misbehaving child was receiving little love, attention and direction. We need to turn our thoughts from a negative thinking, to a positive reflection. Again one might reply, they get more than I can give my kid, and they are always going someplace. My answer would be, but maybe they receive little attention, guidance, time and love. We can never assume that because a child has less money, they have less love and attention. The opposite perhaps is true.
Trust me, I break many of my own rules, and go backwards now and again, when I am attempting to reach my goals. I sit down and acknowledge my errors. My first step in proceeding in a forward motion, is to think about the person involved. At those moments I can reflect on a variety of truths, regarding this person, rather than focusing on the surface. My perception can be deceiving. I cannot underestimate my ability to fool myself .
It allows me to muster some genuine pity for this person, as well as some understanding. It releases any anger and resentment I am holding against them. It actually presents the person in a new and softer light. My humanity is triggered, and my tolerance level is raised. The next time I hope I might achieve the level of tolerance a lot quicker, as I learn to refrain from my deep rooted resentments.
Every time we are discussing another person in a derogatory way, we might question our tolerance of that person. Have we dealt with the troubles they experienced? On the other hand, there are those people who want to vacuum up all of another person’s tolerance. They believe they have the worst of the world dumped on them. I actually pity and tolerate them the most because they have so much real or built up pain, that they have none to give to others. They should tolerate those, who may not understand their plight.
The more we review the need for tolerance in the world, the more we realize our circumstances are so different. It is complicated to comprehend the levels of burdens we all endure, at various stages in our lives. Acceptance is the key. By accepting diversity, we accept tolerance and the inclusion of all people. We take them as they are, and move forward with ease, as we close in on our goal to be a tolerant person.
“Love is not just tolerance. It’s not just distant appreciation. It’s a warm sense of, ‘I am enjoying the fact that you are you.” N. T. Wright
“The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.” Ralph W. Sockman
“And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had more of a tendency to look for people who live by kindness, tolerance, compassion, a gentler way of looking at things.” Martin Scorsese