Wednesday, July 8, 2015

An Antidote for Intolerance

Intolerance unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one's own 

I'm intolerant and I don't plan on changing.  There are some views, beliefs and behavior that I'm unwilling to accept, for example:

  • The view that America is NOT great (I think America is GREAT!)
  • The belief that you can continuously spend more than you make (I believe we must live within our means)
  • Behavior like abusing children (I love children and see our future in them).
My intolerance is usually directed at views/beliefs/behaviors that I deem to be harmful to our "general welfare" or way of life, therefore I feel justified in my intolerance.  "Save the Whales!!!" or whatever I feel passionate about.

The problem with "intolerance" is that being intolerant can drive you a little nuts.  We get heated, angry, mean, desperate when we express our intolerance.   Intolerance is more like a disease than a cure.

 I don't like the symptoms, so after some soul-searching, I think I found an "antidote". I'm not giving up intolerance, just trying to treat the side effects.

Antidote 
a medicine taken or given to counteract a particular poison. 

The antidote is partially inspired by a story from  "The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass".  As a slave, he was treated worse than a dog.  Frederick was very intolerant of slavery (unwilling to accept).  Then he got a new master.  The mistress was kind and began to teach him to read.  When the master found out, he immediately put a stop to the "learning".  Frederick's response was surprisingly: gratitude!  He was beginning to tolerate slavery, but this "set back" reminded him of his resolve to be a free man.  He then focused his attention on striving to be free.

The antidote is simple.  Whenever I feel the negative emotions associated with intolerance, I think "What behaviors of my own can I change?"  Am I spending too much time on the computer?  Am I eating the right things?  Am I treating those I interact with kindness and respect?  My intolerance of others will never change them or make the world a better place.  My intolerance of myself has a better chance of change for good.  This antidote takes the following quote to the next level: 
"He who is without sin... let him cast the first stone"
Let other's "sins" remind us of our own sins, so that we can take action to change, improve our own station and "be free men".
"Be the change you want to see in the World"  - Mahatma Gandhi


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