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Posts Tagged ‘tolerance’

“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” ~Dalai Lama

i_love_being_tolerant_coffee_mug-r1c1865b42be2465584e09e35da0ac1b7_x7jgr_8byvr_324Have 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 dislikefaketaught 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.

Sam

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n word nieema fosterAs a parent I want to protect my children from anything and everything that could hurt them, but realistically that’s not possible. The best I can do is prepare them as well as I can for dealing with and overcoming those issues as they come up. Of course some of the biggest issues that could hurt them come from factors they have absolutely no control over, a fact that hurts even more because, even though I wouldn’t want them to change to fit someone else’s standard, at least it is a flexible thing. When someone hurts either of my children, for whatever reason, though, I am like a papa bear who wants to rip down the entire forest to get justice.

I knew from a young age that if I ever brought children into the world they would be judged, not merely on their mental capacity, or on their empathetic scale, or even on the style of dress they fancied, but also on the color of their skin. Even when I grew older and married a woman who just happened to be white, I knew that skin color would still be an issue, because our children would never be “just” white, so they would be different, especially around here. Yes, we’ve made some great gains in race relations and issues surrounding the tension therein, but prejudice still abounds, even if it is done more subtly now than ever before.

In the class photos you can see the differences, in the abundance of curly, kinky hair, in the fullness of the lips, in the curve of the nose. These characteristics she inherited from me, and I’m proud of that, that I can see some of myself, and of my heritage, in her, even just physically. She gets so much from her mother too, but the one thing that stands out most, especially when looking at the class photos, is her skin color. There is a bit of a Mariah Carey light mocha coloring she has that is so beautiful to me, but I know when others see it they have their own ideas. I will honestly never know why, but some people can’t stand what they don’t understand.

When we are out and about without my wife, it’s interesting to see how differently people treat us, and how they treat me in particular. We are a black family when I am with my children on my own. It’s plain to see when older black women smile at the kids, as if they were their own grandchildren, or when we pass older white couples who look at us like we’re a completely new species. These same older black women, and these same older white couples, treat us differently when we are all together. In fact, they tend to ignore us and go about their business. They don’t “get” us. They can’t wrap their brains around an interracial couple, a mixed race family, even now, in this day and age.

The first time I heard someone use the ‘N’ word I was probably about 8 years old and it was on my block, a place comprised of all black folk, and the term was meant to be endearing. (more…)

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