We should practice tolerance, right? It’s what I’ve been taught. Dictionary.reference.com says that tolerance is: A fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry. I can get behind this definition. Sounds ideal, and something to strive for.
What I am currently experiencing in my life, however, is quite the opposite. It is pretty slanted to be overshadowed by one key word in that definition: PERMISSIVE. Basically, tolerance seems to have been reworded to mean: A permissive attitude toward those who are not you, even when what they do is harmful, in order to prove that you are nice, kind, progressive, or just enough of a good person not to get singled out and slammed publicly or privately. It’s a pretty cowardly space to be in, trying to fly under the radar so the bullies don’t get cha.
I say ENOUGH.
This individual, right here, can practice loving on people, and learning about other cultures and ways of living, but is fed up with wondering whom she will offend at every turn of a corner while doing it because she doesn’t want to be accused of being intolerant. So, I am claiming my space in this area. BAM! Somewhere along the line, the media, the comedy clubs, and the culture around it has lost the meaning of reality. Being popular and entertained has become more important than being real. Or honest. Or true to some solid values. Somewhere along the line, the meaning of giving a fan More Bang For Their Buck became Let’s Just Run With It. And fans, and then the culture let it become the new reality.
It’s into this new reality that I am ready to pop a gasket. Let me explain. I had a conversation, not too long ago, that involved the slamming of my race, religion, culture, choice to have kids, gluttonous amount of money my type of household brings in, and my sad lack of parenting skills. And I took it. WHY? Why would anyone finish a conversation like that? Well, it was because it was coming from a person who was qualified to do it. She was allowed to unload on me about White Privilege, First World Problems, Stupidity of Christianity, the evils of Corporate Life. The Dumb Mom Syndrome that she had run into while at a discount store was just a bonus, I think. She had been discriminated against, growing up, so she deserved to get what was coming to her. This looked like bagging about these subjects.
The conundrum was that they all trumped my place in life, socially. Politically correctly, I mean. So I let it go on. And I questioned my worth. I actually listened to her rational explanation of why “Those People” would be valued by her as less than second-hand citizen status. She was a bigot, and I was her gossip. But instead of stopping the trash, I felt I had to swallow it to be part of a culture where it was her RIGHT to be angry about a type of people who had done her type of people wrong. The “Oh Yeah? You Don’t Appreciate Being Treated That Way? Well How Does It Feel? I have had to deal with it my WHOLE life!” undertone in her voice screamed loudly, even as she was tossing off her words calmly. It dared me to stop the belittling. It wanted to voice the outrage, but do so conversationally.
And I backed away from that voice, cowardly. Obligingly.
I think she had no initial idea how she had pigeon-holed me. NONE. Because it was so accepted in her life, and social circle, to bash the type of people that had bashed hers for so long. Not at first. Justified loathing, gossip, arrogant one liners, and bitterly sticking it to “the man” was absolutely okay. In fact, when I went quiet, she ridiculed me for being all sensitive about it. “I don’t mean YOU, Shar. You know that.” And that was what she used to make it okay.
I experienced small-mindedness. And it SUCKED. So let me say now, right here, that Bigotry sucks. Racism, Sexism, Ageism, … any -ism (which simply gives an individual permission to be dismissive of what is different) … is toxic. And there are countless people who experience it every day. And thrive, in spite of it. But there are also countless people who experience it every day and become the bitter, small-minded, toxic people that they hate so much. So today, I take a stand. Not in behalf of all members of any particular race, sex, religion, age, or community, but on behalf of me. My own space. My human space.
It is time to put down the categories, quit pigeon-holing, and get past the first glance judgments. Discrimination. Reverse Discrimination. It’s all blaming, and I am officially sick of the labels. So. I am taking a stand. To all the bullies out there that want to bludgeon me for not laying down and taking it. This is for you. It looks like this: I am no longer the reason for your triumphs or your struggles. Nor are you the reason for mine.
I have a right to my own struggles with pain and heartache, and they don’t need to be shrugged off, or brushed under the rug, just so your comfort with snap judgments, witty comments, and righteous indignation can happen. I have every right to question my past, my memories, or the inconsistencies in any religion, including my own. This doesn’t mean that my judgment needs to be questioned. This doesn’t even mean that I must have lost faith. Questioning gives me the strength to rely on what I know. So save the insincere prayers, head shakes, and tut-tutting for someone else. I haven’t lost my faith. I have lost my trust. I need transparency from organizations now. If you aren’t willing to back me on what I find, then my faith is none of your business.
In fact, I have a right to make a decision, based upon my gut. Some call it a woman’s intuition, or a sixth sense, or just a gut feeling. Whatever IT is, though, I have a right to it because it is in me. IT is already there, and it is a good tool. So slamming me for using it, or even having it, is over the line. Making it about my sex is not only small-minded, but inaccurate as well. You probably have it too, if you are put in a situation where leaning on it could benefit you or others, constantly, and if you were in a space to listen to it. Don’t discount what you don’t know.
Also, I have a right to be proud of my heritage. Yep. Even though I am WHITE. White, by the way, is the color of my skin, not my state of mind. I am not a robot, any more than you are. I have a choice of how to act, and react, and so do you. So don’t you dare make my flaws or strengths about the color of my skin. That is ignorant, flawed reasoning, and a bully’s reason to be selfish.
I am fine being American, by the way. I am blessed and humbled to know of the freedoms I am allowed when so many others around the world are not. But being American does not automatically make me gluttonous. It doesn’t mean I live in a globally out-of-touch way. So leave me out of the “First World Problems” jokes. I am well aware that other people are hurting. And dying. I am aware of that fact, and that is why I contribute time, money, and energy to various organizations to relieve some of the hurt. It is what I can do. I am also aware that I, alone, am not the solution, so I don’t need your reminder that I still have something left over when others do not, implying that I have not done enough unless I am destitute. I have a right to be happy. This doesn’t mean that I am oblivious to those who are not. It means I am thankful.
Actually, this faith-based, white American female, a mom that works both in and out of the home, is hard-working and makes and then uses money. I am not evil or insensitive for having money in the bank, paying taxes, or having some nice things. I work HARD to save and budget and be smart about the finances, so if I want to enjoy something at a cliche place like Starbucks, or buy something frivolous, believe me, I have budgeted it out. I have a right to use that money, so again, I don’t need to hear the term “White Privilege” or “First World Problems” tossed off at me One. More. Time.
If you want to change me, try inspiring me instead of insulting me. If you want tolerance and acceptance and generosity, then get bigger than your anger or derision. Hate doesn’t bring love. If you wanna be effective, put down the judgement and LEARN about why I tick. Because when that happens, then I know you care. And, if you have a better solution than what I am currently doing, then I would love to hear it. IF you present it kindly. But spewing anger and derision? Well, that’s just crowd mentality, and I won’t take you seriously. And I have every right to walk away from it, not because I am insensitive, but because I value my time. And my energy. I am human. So are you.
So how bout this?
If I say something that offends you, apply that human-ness filter first. It could be that there is a simple, HUMAN, reason for what I have done or said. It could be that I am unaware that there is a change in terminology. Or that new information has come to light, but I wasn’t on Yahoo News to read about it. It could be that a case was won, or lost, or discovered in the Supreme Court, and again, I am not being insensitive or intolerant, I am being HUMAN and living my life. I do not have all the facts and figures. Neither do you. So if you need to assume something, assume this: I AM DOING THE BEST THAT I CAN WITH THE INFORMATION, EXPERIENCES, AND LESSONS I HAVE HAD UP TO THIS POINT IN LIFE. SO ARE YOU. How’s that for being tolerant? When we understand that our rants, our anger, and snap judgments are based, all the way around, from our past experiences being negatively charged about it, then we all come from that same place. Hurt. And wanting to simply protect ourselves and our loved ones. THAT place is the same.
So the question really is this: What outcome do you want from me? Do you want to hurt me, or change me? If you want to hurt me, I will eventually get it, and will just put my back up against you. Your words will be discounted. Or wasted entirely. But if you want to CHANGE me, then really commit. Dig in deep to know what my motivation is, and inspire me. Give me something good to get behind. I already have enough negativity, stress, guilt, and pain in my life. Show me a better solution, and I will bring all my power to the cause. And I have a lot of it. I belong to communities based on sex, race, religion, motherhood, and similar pains in life. I believe in a win/win solution for life. There is no room in that life for cruelty, pettiness, and intolerance. But there is ample room for acceptance, open-mindedness, and tapping into each others strengths to find a better way. So jump on board, or back up outta my space.
I don’t need your approval of me.