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Word of the Day: Tolerance

Updated on April 20, 2013
Peace Lily
Peace Lily

The Catalyst

It has happened again. The word "tolerance" came to visit today. I am sure it was the result of the overwhelming sadness I have felt since terror stuck at the Boston Marathon. When I saw the photo of 8 year old Martin Richard holding a sign that read "no more hurting people" and heard that he had been killed by the bombs, I cried. That innocent child who only wanted peace for all of us, was taken from us by someone who did not understand "tolerance". And I began to ask - why?

The Process of Understanding

The sun came out this morning and we greeted each other as old friends often do. The sun wrapped me in a warm embrace and promised that this would be a better day. My mind drifted to those in far away places; those whose lifestyles and cultures are so very different from mine but who, like me, would soon be greeting the same sun. There is after all - only one sun.

Lost in the moment, I found myself thinking about the universe, this complex space made up of stars and planets, gases and galaxies yet to be discovered or named. I wondered about you, the one whose religion is different from mine, the one whose culture or ethnicity determines the clothes you wear or the manner in which you groom yourself. Our traditions and ceremonies may be different but when we stand on this earth and look to the sky, we are looking at the same sun, the same moon, and the same bright stars shine on us all. So why and when did it become so difficult for us to respect and tolerate each other? Or maybe, the question is – who? Was it our religious leaders or our governments that made it wrong for us to call God by different names. Was it religion or politics that made it wrong for us to treat each other with respect and instead, influenced us with envy, greed, and hatred? What fools we have been.

Right and Wrong, Religion and Politics

I am content with my life. I have all that I need and I’ve earned it. Sometimes I even have a little more than I need and for that, I am grateful. Although I am not wealthy or brilliant, I am capable of making my own decisions and choices. I do not need someone else to tell me how to feel or what to think. But more importantly, I know the difference between right and wrong and it is wrong for us to hurt each other because we are different. Did your people not teach you that? Is that why it seems so easy for you to bring terror and fear to my people? I want to understand you but I will never pretend that I can tolerate your violence. Here, in my country, tolerance is defined as afair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own. I cannot be fair, objective, or permissive when you are hurting others in the name of your religion or politics.

To be honest, as good as my life is there are still things that even I do not like. I do not like paying taxes or having to pay for insurance that I may never actually use. I would prefer not to wear shoes in public and I don’t always feel like being polite. But I have learned that even in my country, where freedom is so precious, there are some things I just must do. There may be things about you that I do not like too but that does not give me the right to inflict pain and suffering on you. It does not give me a license to frighten or kill you. Nothing in my life gives me reason or the right to try and change you. Do they not teach that where you live?

The Price of Intolerance

I feel sorry for you today. Your life must be so much more difficult than mine. You see, I cannot imagine a life in which my inability to tolerate our differences could fill me with so much hatred. I cannot fathom the idea that you must be harmed or killed in the name of my religion or political affiliation. It is incomprehensible to me.

When I read about you in the news, I wondered why you could not see that your beliefs have made you weak. Your intolerance for our differences have sealed your fate. We are a tolerant nation but we cannot and will not tolerate violence against others. Each choice we make in life has consequences. I wonder, is your intolerance of our differences worth the price you will pay? Are you willing to die because my skin and yours are different colors? Will you spend your life in prison because we prayed to a God we call by different names? Will you give up your freedom because you resent mine? Isn’t there a better way?

The Lesson

I suppose I should be grateful. Your hatred and violence are examples of all that I do not want to become. When you claim that your violence is directed by your religion, I wrap myself more tightly in the teachings of my own. When I see the pain you have inflicted on the innocent, I become more compassionate and caring. I become more determined than ever not to be like you. Yes, even tolerance and intolerance can live peacefully together in a civilized world. This is what you have taught me. I can and will tolerate our differences until your intolerance hurts those I love and then, like you, I will become intolerant.

© 2013 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.


“In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher.”

- Dalai Lama XIV

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  • tillsontitan profile image

    Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

    Linda this piece hits so close to home for what is happening in the world today. You have made all the points we need to remember and called it "tolerance". My 18 yr. old granddaughter is in a New Visions program in High School where she is shadowing doctors, surgeons, etc. She came home one day and said, "Grandma, you know we are all the same on the inside?" To me, profound. We have all the same organs and are made up of the same stuff, where does it go wrong?

    I totally agree, "I can and will tolerate our differences until your intolerance hurts those I love and then, like you, I will become intolerant."

    Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting. Shared as well.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Mary. thanks so much for understanding and agreeing. Recent events have made me think about this deeply and I came to he same conclusion as your granddaughter. We are ALL the same inside and...we live under one sky, one sun, one moon. I do not understand violence. I never have and never will, I don't guess. I know it's wrong though and I know we have to find a solution. Tell your granddaughter hat I am proud of her for being so aware at such a young age. It gives me hope. Thanks so much for the votes and sharing too.

  • Cantuhearmescream profile image

    Cat 4 years ago from New York

    Irc7815,

    Thank you! Why does this seem to be such a difficult concept to understand? Why should anyone hate another person because they do not share the same beliefs? If your beliefs are not directly hurting me or anyone else then I say "believe what you will and I'll still love you". This is why I do not voice much of my opinion on religion or my beliefs because I want to be tolerated among all kinds of people. How is it fair to cast me aside, a lover of all people, simply because we do not necessarily share the same beliefs? Maybe it makes me weak, maybe it makes me strong? Is there any religion that says to hate or kill people with different beliefs? Why does it come to that? We do all share the same warmth from the same sun, do I deserve any more warmth or a brighter sun than anyone else? No, we are all created equal under the sun. This is so beautiful, I hope it goes viral!

    Voted Up, Awesome and Beautiful!

    Cat

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks Cat! We think so much alike. I don't discuss religion easily either because my religion is very personal to me and I refuse to be swept up in an argument over it. Althouh I fail miserably sometimes, I try to be a living example of what I believe. That's the best I can do. lol

  • Cantuhearmescream profile image

    Cat 4 years ago from New York

    Irc7815,

    I just don't get it; aren't religions supposed to promote personal growth? I don't understand how hatred of others does anything productive for anyone's growth. I refuse to hate others for "no good reason", at least by my standard or reasoning and I would really prefer not to be hated by others when I have done nothing to disrespect them or their beliefs. Wouldn't the world be so much more a simpler place if we let personal preferences go?

    I think your approach is great, we don't need to shout our beliefs from the rooftops, just live by them the best you can.

    Cat

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Being a U.S. citizen is not an easy gig. If I believe in the freedoms given to me under the Bill of Rights, then I must also be tolerant of viewpoints that make my blood boil. That is my responsibility as a citizen of this country.

    Now if we can just get a couple more million people to understand that basic fact. :)

    Beautiful thoughts, Kindred.

    Tomorrow is a new day, and with it new hope.

    bill

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

    The problem is this religion is all about hate and to destroy all who are not them (especially Jew and Christian) and it will not end, it is only beginning. The shocking thing is that some of the Christian leaders are trying to tie the Christian religion to these people and call it Chrislam. It goes against all the Christian is. It is a very frightening time. It would be horrible to spend the rest of our lives trying to survive it, but it could be.

  • Kathryn Stratford profile image

    Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

    Beautiful and thoughtful piece. I wish everyone would accept each other despite differences. There is so much good in this world, but the bad in it sometimes throws such a big shadow over us, and it doesn't need to be that way.

    Even though one of the suspects is dead, and the other captured, there are so many "side effects" to the event. Obviously there are many people who have a long road of recovery ahead of them, or grief to go through. But aside from that, there's now going to be those who lash out against those of the same (or similar) ethnicity or religion as the culprits. Just today I have heard of two violent incidents: one against a Muslim, and another against a Russian. It pains me that a couple of people do something bad, and then many people blame it on an entire race or religion. It shouldn't be that way.

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

    Well put. We masons should avoid those things that cause us to argue and foster those things which bring out our best.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Bill, it's a dauinting task, isn't it? Couple million? One person at a time, kindred. :-)

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    @ Jackie - Hello to you! Thanks for weighing in on such a tough subject. I often think that many have forgotten the basic concepts of their religion and are following some distorted version instead. Getting back to the basics might help all of us,no matter what religion you believe in.

    @ Kathryn - You make such an important point and I am so glad that you shared it here. It is so true that an entire culture or religion can be blamed for the actions of a few and it's just wrong. Good and bad co-exist in every group and that is reality. Understanding and tolerance is the solution but the challenge is enormous. One person and one day at a time.

    @ MH - I certainly agree with you. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you are doing well these days.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Linda, this is beautifully written. Your wind down to your innermost thoughts is right on. Those who cannot tolerate our way of life should stay in their homeland as far as I'm concerned.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks Shauna. This country has always welcomed those who wanted to be here but it is very sad that some come with so much hate in their heart.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    That's why I say they should stay home. We have no more room for hate.

  • picklesandrufus profile image

    picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

    What a well written, thoughtful and poignant hub. You put into words a lot of feeling I have had this week, but never put them all together. Vote way up.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hey Pickles!!! My feelings have run the full range of the spectrum this week. I want to understand and yet I am angry too. I guess I just can't and will never understand violence. Thanks for being here today.

  • ImKarn23 profile image

    Karen Silverman 4 years ago

    Sigh...and so it goes, eh?

    i adore you Linda - you FEEL right!

    i share your disgust at the recent events (recent events? look how words can...sanitize!!)

    i share your disgust with the cowardly act of violence that tore bodies and lives apart! And - i already feel disgust for the NEXT one - as well as the LAST one..

    you are BOTH 'brilliant' and 'wealthy' my friend - in compassion, intelligence - and TOLERANCE!

    voting and sharing..

    and hugging..

  • Feline Prophet profile image

    Feline Prophet 4 years ago from India

    May you never become intolerant...whatever the provocation.

  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

    Thanks Linda for this profound write! I am always just bewildered by the fact that the world as a whole is not more civilized by now, I mean, this is 2013!!!! To me, it would seem that a civilized world is a peaceful and intelligent world, respecting our differences and loving one another. God is love . . . God is not hate! To hate is the opposite of what God is all about. My heart breaks for this world and these senseless acts of violence . . . I will never understand it.

    Voted up ++++ and sharing

    God bless you dear friend. In His Love Always, Faith Reaper

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

    Such beautiful thoughts! I love this hub and will be sure to pass it on. We don't hear enough about tolerance. On the other hand, we hear way to much about violence. I sometimes wonder what would happen if violent acts were eliminated from the news, movies, etc. Why not replace this with tolerance and kind acts? Just sayin...

    Fantastic write and so thankful you presented this!

  • MG Singh profile image

    MG Singh 4 years ago from Singapore

    Excellent post, but it takes two to clap and the Wahabbi Islamics will not accept it.

  • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

    Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

    Wonderful thoughts and feelings. Wonderful I say because they inspire to go a different way and to do better for one's self. As you said to become more compassionate toward others. Voted up for sure. Life is much too short to always live with hate and violence.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

    This hub gets you message across beautifully. It is so hard to understand the hatred that we saw in Boston. We don't have to agree about everything but why can't we treat each other with dignity? For a long time now, I have used the phrase, "we all bleed red." This is a very well written hub.

  • Angela Blair profile image

    Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

    Unfortuntely, if a person, from childhood, grows up in an atmosphere of hate and violence -- that usually becomes their lifestyle -- whether it is religious, familial or regional. The huge question is how to redirect that energy/feelings -- and as we all know -- the liklihood of that is minimal. Excellent Hub and so very well written. Best/Sis

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    MizBejabbers 4 years ago

    Linda, my friend, this is beautiful and beautifully written with food for thought. I must say you are a kinder, gentler person than I am. When I was in elementary school, we were taught a meaning of freedom that I have never forgotten: “Your freedom ends where my nose begins.” We are being socked in the nose. We need to consider that these people are invading our rights and stepping on our freedoms. My childhood church taught that one day evil would try to take over this world. My metaphysical spirituality is also teaching that evil would rally for one last attempt at taking over the world during the times of the Ascension. I think this is what is happening. Evil has invaded this religion and taken over some of the more gullible participants. In fact, I think some of these people are born with evil spirits. These are the ones whom reason cannot touch.

    That is not to say that there are not good sincere people in this religion. But the good sincere people in Islam have a responsibility for policing their own religion just as Christians should police Christianity for zealots and extremists who would harm others. We do a fairly good job of policing and prosecuting harmful so-called “Christians” in this country, for example: the Aryan Nation and the leaders of the Alamo followers.

    So-called “good” Muslims are lax in doing their own policing and are tolerant toward the violent radicals, not turning in those who are planning violence and sometimes even hiding them from authorities. Therefore, I think the United States needs to stop looking through rose-colored glasses at immigrants and start practicing intolerance toward people, regardless of color or religion, who have a potential for hatred and violence toward us. Why are we as a country obligated to take in all the poor and oppressed, only to have them turn on us. It’s called biting the hand that feeds you.

    I think that we need to develop intolerance to the intolerant. If we don’t, we don’t have any right to be indignant when they kill us. Voted you up ++

  • shiningirisheyes profile image

    Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

    Linda - You write from the heart and this is such an importance message with a powerful view point. I keep those in Boston in my prayers while I manage to say a prayer for those carry such hatred in their hearts that they must hurt and destroy.

  • grandmapearl profile image

    Connie Smith 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

    Linda, how many people have been hurt or killed in the name of political or religious beliefs? I shudder to even think about the humanity that has suffered. I have struggled to understand the kind of mindset that produces these feelings of abject hatred and bloodthirstiness. We are living in a world that is off-balance. Everything seems to be so intense; emotions run so high--like a clock that has been wound too tightly. I'm very afraid of what will happen when the spring finally breaks.

    It's so true: We all stand under the same stars, so how can we be so different? I don't like this feeling I now have. Whenever I go to a public place, it occurs to me I might be in danger from someone I have never met; people out there want to hurt or kill me, and I don't know why.

    Thank you for this eloquent and timely article. Voted Up & Awesome

    Pearl

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Leslie, the feeling it totally mutual. I love how easily you speak your truth and don’t worry about who agrees with you. The world would be a better place if everyone were as direct. You read this one exactly as I felt it. The recent events are disgusting and horribly sad. Each night when I turn on the news and hear the stories of those who died and those who lost limbs, I experience the feelings all over again. I cannot wrap my brain around the suffering caused by such a selfish, violent act against innocent human beings. And then, I am more convicted than ever to keep screaming about all the injustice. Stand with me girlfriend and I’ll be by your side too.

    Feline Prophet – thank you so much for the visit. I can tolerate most things but violence against innocent people is beyond my tolerance limit.

    Faith, my dear, sweet friend with a heart as big as the universe, I know you are feeling the same horror and that you are praying for all those affected. It brings me hope and comfort. Hugs and blessings to you too!

    Vocal coach, your comment makes me blush. Thank you so much for the kind words.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    MG Sing, thank you for visiting and weighing in on such an important topic. We have to keep hope alive, pray more, and keep speaking out against all injustice in the world.

    Gypsy, the more news I listen to the news the more I realize how much work there is to be done. It’s almost too big to comprehend but I can’t help but believe we can make a difference by setting an example and trying to change it one person at a time. Thanks for caring and for sharing.

    Pamela, it’s good to hear from you. I hope you are doing well. As I was watching the news unfold in Boston, I had the same thought – “we all bleed red”. And then I thought about the moon and the stars, etc. and I tried to wrap my brain around what was happening and … for what. It is beyond my comprehension.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Angela, hello again. As much as I wish you were wrong, I know you are not. How to redirect… that is the question of the day isn’t it? I don’t have the answer but I really am finding myself less and less tolerant of violent acts against innocent people. Nothing in my gray matter is capable of understanding it. I will even admit that I am capable of understanding violence between individuals who have hurt each other, although I think it’s just as wrong. It’s just a damn mess, this old world of ours and I am compelled to keep talking and hoping that I can turn even one person around. Thanks for the visit. You are always a bright spot in my comments.

    MizB – why on earth didn’t you write this hub? You said it far better than I did. Lol I agree with you, on every point you made. I tried hard though in this hub, not to single out a particular ethnic group or religion. My reason – because I have yet to convince myself that this trending violence by those claiming affiliation with or identifying as Muslim, really know much at all about the religion they are hiding behind. I do however agree that these people are evil and weak and that this is absolutely a part of our transformation into a new society. It sure is painful and hard to watch. Thanks so much for such a well written and thoughtful comment. You really should write a hub. Hugs to you and Mr. B.

    Shiningirisheyes – You inspire me. I need to be more vigilant in my prayers for those that commit these horrendous acts of violence. Thank you so much for the gentle reminder. Yes, I do write from the heart and when I have to witness such tragedy, my heart breaks and I sometimes forget to do what is right and best for all. Gosh it’s hard being a good person sometimes. Thanks so much for your kind words and visit.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Grandmapearl - Wow! You said a mouthful. I completely agree with you. I have concluded that what is happening in the world is beyond my understanding. It makes no sense to me but like you, I fear that it will become worse before it gets better. I think most of us think twice about attending large events anymore and although I am not the person who will allow fear to direct my life, I do find that I have less and less interest in being one of millions in a crowd. I am content to stick close to friends and family I know and love and that, is enough for me. I'm so glad you stopped by and share your beautiful thoughts.

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    MizBejabbers 4 years ago

    Linda, beautiful lady, you are just a nicer person than I am. (I think I've said this before.) I know the Bible says to not judge, but it doesn't mean that we can't be discriminating. There are some religions just prone to violence and some are pacifists. Buddists don't have a tendency toward violence and prejudice, and the Tibetan monks are pacifists. A lot of the violence seems to come from religions that descend from the Hebrews: Jews, Catholics, protestants, and Muslims. God's "chosen people" indeed. Just who was this violent god anyway. My wise old atheist daddy taught me to call a spade a spade. Why can't we do away with the Old Testament and just feel the love Jesus Christ taught in the New Testament?

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    MizB - You are a breath of fresh air with your calling a spade a space. My Daddy was the same. I try to temper myself when I write out of respect for others but trust me, in real life, I am so much more direct. lol You inspire me.

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    MizBejabbers 4 years ago

    Linda, I just couldn't resist. The op-ed section of today's newspaper has a cartoon reprinted from the Chattanooga Times Free Press that I had to share. A man is walking his dog past a building, possibly a church because the sign out front is in the style churches use. He stops to read the sign. The sign says, "Intolerance is intolerable". Thought you might enjoy it.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    MizB, I adore you. Your sense of humor and spunk is akin to my own. I wish I had writtethat cartoon. It will probable go viral somewhere on the web. Thanks for sharing. Hope you have a wonderful weekend and a little time to smell the roses (or whatever elseis blooming right now).

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