“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” ~Dalai Lama
Have we become less tolerant of others or is it just more apparent because of the ubiquity of social media, connecting us to more people than ever, whether we want to be or not? I’ve wondered this more so lately.
“It’s my opinion, so it can’t be wrong,” someone posted the other day on Facebook, in response to someone else saying they were wrong. This seems to be the prevailing argument these days when someone judges another, for whatever reasons. It’s this idea that everyone is entitled to share their opinions, even if those opinions are sweeping statements about entire groups, when they are hateful and hurtful, when their only intent is to emotionally maim someone else.
“If you have nothing good to say, then don’t say anything at all,” my mother taught me growing up, and I think it’s even more relevant now. At least when I was growing up there wasn’t the access to what everyone else was thinking. Back then we kept our thoughts to ourselves, if only because there was no internet as a megaphone. We were taught to be… what was the word again… oh yeah, NICE to everyone else, even if it meant putting on a face and pretending. Just to keep the peace.
But “the peace” has gone out the window. Too many people aren’t tolerant of others. The second we hear that someone else has something different from us we try and find ways of tearing them down. Either we’re jealous, we just don’t understand it, or it matters not to us, but instead of ignoring whatever it is, instead of moving on with our lives, we make a snarky comment on some sort of social media, and things escalate. What happened to our sense of tolerance?
More and more I see these posts, I see these memes, I watch these intolerant comments fill up space that used to be for pictures of cats and monkeys getting along together. More and more often I can’t help but shake my head at the ignorance, at the brazenness, of these intolerant souls who just can’t seem to help themselves. But they can help themselves. I do it all the time. Do I agree with every single thing everyone else says? No. But I understand that we are all individuals, that we all have our own ways of seeing the world.
Because, see, that’s how tolerance works. We need more of it in our world today. Or at the very least, we don’t need to say everything that comes into our minds. We really don’t.