Tolerance

Updated: Mar 18, 2019


Lately, like most of us in southwest Florida, I have found myself waiting in a lot of traffic, and consequently, staring at the car in front of me for an unusually long period of time. Maybe that’s why I have developed a new interest in reading bumper stickers. I was thinking the other day that I should try to read as many as possible... I mean if someone actually goes to the trouble of purchasing a bumper sticker and applying it to his or her bumper, they have something important to say. And, I am now very curious about what that is. Last week, while I was in gridlock traffic I was behind a car with a bumper sticker that simply read “TOLERANCE believe in it”. Have you seen that one? It is kind of a variation on the “COEXIST” bumper sticker, where each letter is actually a religious symbol - a Christian cross, a peace sign, a Native American pipe, male and female symbols, Kokopelli, a Jewish star, Baha’i Pointed Star, an Islamic Star and Crescent and Einstein’s formula e=mc2. At first glance, I appreciated the message. But after I thought about it, I began to wonder. Do I want to be “tolerated?” If someone said to me, “I completely disagree with you, but I suppose I will have to tolerate you.” Or, “ I guess I believe that you, with your totally different way of thinking, can “exist” along with me.” The answer is NO. Can we do better than that? As a human being I am more than who I voted for and the God I believe in. So are you. If I am “tolerating” someone. Am I listening to them? Am I curious about their experiences? Do I really respect what they think and how they feel, or am I just allowing them the space to do so? I think of a world where people actually leaned in to the discomfort of relationships with those they disagree with... where people had the intellectual humility to listen, learn, and… dare I suggest it? Form friendships? As human beings on this earth, we are connected. We have so much more in common than not, and when we lack the curiosity and desire to dive deeper into relationships with those who are different than us, not only do we diminish the human experience, but we miss out on the resources to solve the world’s problems. I love the way Mother Teresa said it, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

-Laura Thomas

Laura Thomas


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