Most people in my life know me as outspoken, honest, and quite to the point. If you’re new here and haven’t figured it out, this post will probably serve as a neon sign to that effect.
Living in the south brings with it some challenges. Racism, homophobia, and a generic disdain for anyone who”talks funny” pervades the area, with the occasional respite found around the major universities. Bars and churches compete for prevalence, often with the convenience of being right next to each other. It offers consolation and reconciliation in a somewhat ironic, but wildly appropriate cyclical relationship. The parasites of paradox, so to speak.
Among those who frequent either or both sides of the parking lot are those who loves to crow about how “tolerant” they are of “those people”. Now, allow me to clarify something before we proceed: homophobia, gender discrimination (on both sides!), and racism are particular pet peeves of mine. But this particular attitude encompasses not just Those Faggots, Those Dykes, Those N*ggers, Those ChingChings, Those Sand N*ggers, Those Jews, Those Bitches, and Those Duke/Carolina Fans. This applies to any group for whom you brag about your “tolerance”. You dislocated your shoulders patting yourselves on the back, preen like the cock of the yard. But your arrogance and misguided self-importance just makes your strutting look stupid.
Why? Why would I insult you, the ones who so graciously allow Those People to live on your streets, to shop at your stores, to worship in your churches, to learn at your schools?
Because your tolerance is bullshit. Tolerance is some politically correct doublespeak that simply means you agree that you can’t legally run them out on a rail, so you keep your hatred and your bigotry on the down-low instead of preaching it on the street corners.
Let’s look at the definitions of the word “tolerate”, shall we? We’ll quote from Merriam Webster’s website at http://www.m-w.com. Feel free to make sure I did it right.
- to allow (something that is bad, unpleasant, etc.) to exist, happen, or be done
- to experience (something harmful or unpleasant) without being harmed
- to accept the feelings, behavior, or beliefs of (someone)
However, under the “full definition” of the word, that last one is not seen. It’s simply been added to the casual usage.
Tolerating something is enduring a hardship. It’s dealing with something unpleasant that you cannot change or prevent; it’s a way of conceding. The driving emotional force is still as pejorative as the hatred and lack of respect that created this need for concession in the first place.
Nowhere in this mess is there any hint of the real emotions that would make you an actually decent human being. Understanding; true acceptance; celebration; learning. Tolerance doesn’t occur without judgment. Real acceptance does. Acceptance is what occurs when you can recognize a difference in gender, religion, culture, orientation, or sports teams, and understand that those differences do not affect the quality of a person’s character. Understanding takes the opportunity to learn about each other and embrace it without reserve. It realizes that we do not have to experience another person’s feelings or beliefs as our own in order to show respect.
Let me repeat that last bit one more time in case you missed it. We do not have to experience another person’s feelings or beliefs as our own in order to show respect. Hatred has no place in acceptance and understanding.
We tolerate a lot of things in this life, because we don’t have the power to change it. Applying this to humanity implies that people who are different than you need to be changed in order to fit your own personal image of what should and shouldn’t be. That level of arrogance isn’t just sad; it’s destructive.
The next time you brag about how tolerant you are of Those People, perhaps you should take a step back and realize that Those People aren’t the problem here. You are.