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Dying and Other Bad Habits

1486606921_a5d44818df_bSo as it turns out, I’m dying. Huh. Who knew? Oh, right, I did. Oops.

Anyhow, yeah. I’m apparently dying. But as it turns out, I don’t actually know when it’ll happen, nor do I know what will kill me. (Although, at this rate, my best guess would either be the Scientist or my boss, so check them out first!)

It also appears that I’m not alone in this. I have yet to meet anyone who’s found the real Fountain of Youth, so I guess everyone around me is also going to die. This begs the question, why the hell are we so caught up in the stupid minutia that pervades our everyday existence?

There are things that are worth drawing this line in the sand. I know I have them. Mess with my kids in any way, and whatever relationship we had is over. No second chances, no exceptions. It’s simply gone. But really, anyone who’s known me for more than ten minutes is pretty clear on that one. Another one for me is that I don’t tolerate intolerance. My home has always been and will always be a safe space. My kids always knew they could bring friends of any race, religion, gender, orientation, etc, and it was all good. We don’t judge, we don’t hate. The quality of a person’s spirit has nothing to do with any of those labels; it’s simply based on who you are.

But I’m talking about things like stressing over having the “perfect” body shape so that you’ll appeal to whatever ideal is currently trending in the mainstream media. Or maybe the fact that people don’t always love the type of people you feel they should love. Or maybe your floors didn’t get mopped this week and they “should’ve”.

What are we doing? Why are we layering stress after stress upon ourselves and each other?

I’ve long since quit denying or hiding who I am. I simply don’t care anymore. The Therapist had to reiterate to the Scientist and me over an over and over, “If it works for you, screw anyone else’s opinion.” I still need reminding at times. I still occasionally slip back into that “What will They think?” mode, and it’s pointless.

So I own who I am, and I find peace within it. I’m about as flawed and as weird as can be, but maybe that’s part of why the people who choose to be in my life make that choice. I’m a person who prefers women by orientation (with the exception of a certain hot Scientist), has three amazing kids, and a well-functioning open marriage. I have a disability, a neurological condition, a high stress job, and multiple tattoos. I’m an avid quilter, cook, gardener, and photographer. I’ve been an agnostic, slightly Pagan, recovering Catholic for 20 years. I love the Pittsburgh Steelers and sort of love the Atlanta Braves, although I will never -ever- forgive them for trading Craig Kimbrel. I also have a temper, and am like a viper if I feel cornered. I rarely trust people, but those I do trust, I trust for life. I’m way too adept at showing people a mask if I think it’ll make life easier, but I’m working on that.

And yet, no matter what I am, what I’ve been before, or what I might become, I’m still dying. And so are you. What will you do with the time you have left?

 

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Your “Tolerance” Still Makes You A Jerk

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.

  1. to allow (something that is bad, unpleasant, etc.) to exist, happen, or be done
  2. to experience (something harmful or unpleasant) without being harmed
  3. 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.