Beyond Tolerence

Chris and Dave Wattenberg

This article, we believe, expresses and explains a fundamental of the healing community. If you find that any part of this article is objectionable, accept our sincere apologies. This article is meant to build on the foundations set by Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi.

For many years in America tolerance has been drummed into us as a goal. It was a reaction to the violence from the bigotry and hatred that pervaded the society. After two world wars, Korean and at that time the beginning of America’s involvement in Viet Nam, violence against anyone who was different was common. Racial tensions were high, women could get a college degree only to become an executive secretary and point systems prohibited people from moving into neighborhoods.

Tolerance is that fine line, as they say in “Star Wars”, between the light and dark sides. It is a place of inaction. Sitting on that line hatred continues to fester and build.

Think of some of the most common phrases with the word, like: What is your tolerance to pain? How much of this medication can the patient tolerate before it destroys the kidneys. Or the cake will burn up if you give it more heat than it can tolerate.

Tolerance is a word based in negatives. It is used to express constraint. So where should we be placing our goals? In education which leads top understanding and acceptance.

For some reason people have a fear that understanding will lead to conversion and loss of ones identity. This is only the case if one defines themselves as what they are not. If you define yourself by the attributes that make you special, your identity is strong.

Most of us like a variety of ethnic foods. We eat and enjoy the variety of food. Pizza and spaghetti are staples of American teenagers. Beagles have become one of the most basic breakfast food. Picnics often include hot dogs or sausages. We are not concerned that we will become Italian, Jewish or German because we eat these food. Nor do we avoid Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Creole or other ethnic food because we will loose our identity.

In the same way we listen to the waltz without a fear of becoming Viennese. A Shakespearian play does not make us feel that we will become British. Using a camera does not make us fear becoming Japanese. The variety of products, tastes, smells and sounds add to the quality of our lives. Diversity broadens our horizons. Diversity is what makes life exciting.

We need to take the same view of cultures and religions. We have traveled to every state in the union, the middle east, Caribbean and Indonesia. We travel to experience the differences. We eat the foods of the country and meet and talk with the local people.

Our friends have told us that we are adventurous. No place is too alien. We always have the understanding that we are the aliens in their land. We do not tolerate the differences, we enjoy them. The differences and new experiences are the reason we travel.

Be it work or our communities, we find ourselves being drawn to the people who are different from us. Our best friends are of different races, sexual orientations, ages, religions, etc. Some of our friends are half our age, and others nearly double our age. They are European, Oriental, Middle Eastern, African, South American and even Canadian. They are tall and short, thin and fat. They have all colors of hair, some colors that have never been natural and some without hair.

Learning to view the variety of people is a joy. Realizing that they are not better than or worse than us, just different, is liberating. Discovering how much alike we all are and how unique each of us is brings peace..



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