I have long believed that every conversation we have is purposeful. It is to say to someone what they need to hear at that moment, but to also listen to what we need to hear at that moment. In the days of technology it is a little harder to decipher what those are, as much is taken out of the person to person interaction; things like facial expression, body language, tone. I bring this up after some reflection on a social media post I took part in several days ago. It was with a person who I had not seen for a long time, but who was very front and center in the first half of my life – the years that originally molded and shaped me.
They had made a comment about their attempt to watch a media outlet that they completely disagreed with. WOW.. so much respect for them for taking the step and making the attempt. I chimed in with my thoughts on all media and they responded with their own thoughts in return. I debated putting the exact conversation on here for you all to read. However, in the end I figured the exact words were irrelevant, the sentiment from us both was far more important. By taking the time to think and re-read the conversation, I have allowed myself to see that in some ways the two of us were doing the same thing; expressing our biases, our own judgments, and showing our own divisions. It made me far more aware of how we all paint with a very broad brush. I am so tired of doing this, and am trying desperately to recognize when I am. I am trying to unload the weight and at least conversations are starting – I hope.
One word really kept coming to my mind in all of this; the word tolerance. Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary defines it as “relative capacity to endure or adapt physiologically to an unfavorable environmental factor. Sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own – the act of allowing something”. I also went to different books from different faiths to see what they said about tolerance. I found that not only did these books talk of being tolerant, they also talked of being intolerant. I think we all believe that we are pretty tolerant people, are we really though? Maybe it depends on the circumstance. Much like my conversation with my old friend. Their responses made me sad in some ways as I was able to recognize a level of intolerance. Then all of a sudden a flash went off in me. An open admittance of the things that I do not tolerate well.
I found that I have a level of intolerance with people who do not wish to learn or absorb. Maybe that however, is not with them, maybe the teacher just needs to find another way to teach. I believe that people absorb when they are ready, when it is beneficial to them, when it is an advantage or addition to their lives. I also found that I have a level of intolerance to language, and or people, that try to tear me apart from my connection to other people or things that I truly want to get to know, to try, and possibly even to love. My list could continue shockingly, and very possibly infinitely. I know for me to become whole I must learn to change. As someone has said to me even baby steps in the right direction are good.
So as you read my words and choose to join me, if only momentarily, in my journey, I hope you begin to recognize some of your own levels of intolerance. If you would like to join the conversation and share what some of them are as I did, please do so. We would love to hear from you. If you are not ready to join the conversation, but are ready to change, than just remember baby steps can also get you to a great destination. Try to think about all of our shoes – step out of yours – and try something new.