Make the World a Better Place – Be Tolerant Toward Others
A Brighter World!
Make the World a Better Place
Life is a journey and as we progress along we can, if we are receptive to the acquisition of knowledge, learn important lessons which will contribute to our overall wisdom and maturity making us better people and making the world a better place.
Among the important lessons to be learnt is the value of qualities such as tolerance, compassion, and empathy towards the people with whom we interact on a daily basis and ultimately, to people in general. These virtues seem to be sorely lacking in today’s society as increasingly, humankind seems to be failing in the God-given responsibility to be one another’s keeper. Here are some behaviours we could practice to make the world a better place.
1. Be Supportive
We are called to be supportive of each other, but often, when someone is in a difficult situation, particularly one which attracts public attention; their troubles are magnified by the negative comments that are made, sometimes by the very persons from whom support and understanding are expected. Such insensitivity points to a lack of compassion and understanding for our fellows and does not contribute to constructive living.
Often, we cast judgement on others without much thought of the circumstances which triggered their actions. Critics seldom take the time to consider that there might have been a number of issues over time which could have driven a person into an undesirable situation. They do not pause to reflect on the fact that were they in a similar situation their actions might have been similar, if not worse. Certainly, they seem oblivious of the fact that given the situation, what the ‘offender’ needs at the time is support rather than criticism which might drive them further down the lane to self-destruction.
The grass always appears greener on the other side of the fence. Harper Lee, in his book, 'To Kill a Mockingbird' says that before judging someone else we must “put on the person’s shoes and walk around in them”. This is a valuable piece of advice for those of us who are prone to envy, to casting aspersions or making judgements about others without adequate knowledge of their circumstances.
Examples of this type of behaviour are rife in societies the world over, for regardless of race, class or creed, human behaviour remains similar everywhere. A few scenarios from different aspects of life should suffice to illustrate this point:
2. Be Less Judgmental
So often we hasten to judge others with no knowledge of their circumstances and no consideration for their feelings. For e.g:
- Family Life - Generally, we have preconceived notions of what the ideal family should be like and so we identify in society families which fit the picture that we have in mind. How taken aback and often highly judgmental we become when, out of the blue, we learn that some such family has broken up - the parents are getting divorced and the children are going astray. We are disappointed in them, critical of them, disillusioned by them, maybe even abusive of them. We see them as a lie to our image of the ideal family. But who gave us the right to set high expectations of and standards for them in the first place? We did not know their background, their circumstances; their trials and struggles. We never even wore their shoes far less to walked around in them. We have no right to judge them and if we cannot be of assistance to them, at least we should desist from maligning them!
3. Practice Tolerance
Tolerance is a virtue which if exercised could avoid much of the pain than we cause one another. For instance:
- In the School - Teachers as well as students have a tendency to criticize and label students who have behavioral or learning problems. It is perhaps easier to label them and ignore them than to try to assist them. Nevertheless, students come from varied backgrounds and I have come across those who, before they have even reached their teens have had adult roles and responsibilities thrust upon them by absent, neglectful or ailing parents. Such children find themselves with the responsibility of caring and providing for younger siblings without the requisite knowledge, skills, experience or finances to do so. They find themselves unable to function at school as a result of tiredness, hunger, stress, resentment, insecurity, unhappiness - you name it – all consequences of the responsibilities weighing down on their immature shoulders. And when this happens, their classmates and teachers sometimes, far from showing understanding and compassion, add to their burdens by their attitudes of rejection, scorn, prejudice or apathy.
4. Be Contented With Your Lot
Ambition is good in that it pushes you on to be the best that you can be. However, the type of ambition which kills your conscience, integrity and compassion is bad for humankind. For e.g:
- In the Work Place - We envy persons in our workplace or in other organizations, their positions and the status symbols ( expensive cars and big houses) which they display. If only we knew about their sleepless nights meeting company deadlines, resolving company issues and conflicts. If only we knew the pressures they bore from inconsiderate supervisors/managers or uncooperative and resentful junior staff. If only we knew of their other domestic issues such as marital difficulties and problems with rebellious teenagers to name a few. If only we knew about their personal financial problems such as inability to meet mortgage payments, pay utility and other bills and manage over-commitments incurred to maintain their social status. If only we would realize that we are able to enjoy a good night’s rest 90% of the time while they are able to do so only perhaps 10% of the time. If only we knew how it felt to walk around in their shoes, we would be happier with our simpler, less complicated lifestyles.
5. Be Responsible for Your Own Salvation
We are responsible for the choices that we make an the decisions that we take. We cannot thrust the burden of blame for our actions on others. For instance:
- In the Church/Religious Life - We expect leaders to be infallible and so we threaten to abandon our own Christianity when it is discovered that a pious man of God has fallen into sin. But is his sin corrected by our ceasing to attend church and relinquishing our beliefs? We all have to answer to God for our own transgressions, so while it is true that the Pastor has a responsibility to lead his flock with honesty and piety, each member of the flock also has personal responsibility for his/her own salvation. We may exercise our privilege to join another church, but wherever we go we will always have to answer God for ourselves. We therefore, ought not to allow ourselves to be distracted from the beaten path because a righteous person has fallen and we certainly, must accept the fact that righteous people are just as human, thus wont to err as anyone else.
Enjoy the Journey and Help Someone Else Enjoy it
Make the Best of Life's Journey
Regardless of age, we are all called to offer a sympathetic ear or a sturdy shoulder for a brother, sister, neighbour or friend. We can do that without poking our nose into their affairs. We can do that by being sensitive, understanding and caring. We can do that by remembering that some people wear shoes that hurt and we must know their pain before we judge, castigate or brand them.
Life is indeed a journey! Hence, let me end with the well-known saying, “we shall pass this way but once...” so that we are reminded that we all need to make the best of the journey not just for our own personal fulfillment, but for the benefit of the brothers and sisters with whom we share this beautiful world.
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