Tolerance

"Tolerance and celebration of individual differences is the fire that fuels lasting love." -Tom Hannah

This is such a great quote on a macro and micro level.  We all have a story; whether that story is the colour of our skin, the religion we choose, if we we want to live in a woman's body or a man's: its all decisions about how to live out this very short one life on the planet.  Its so easy to sharpen the edges of our differences rather than seek out what we can agree on.  You may not be bullied for choosing to be a different gender but you might have been for wearing glasses. You may not have to hide that you are a Christian but maybe you have to hide an alcoholic parent.  You may not feel ashamed of the colour of your skin but you might feel embarrassed that you can't read well or have trouble with dyslexia. You may not be afraid to walk down the street because you wear a hijab but maybe you were when you walked past the bully's house. 

The struggles that we go through in our lives are where we either curl in on ourselves or where we live with more determination.  We may not recognize our own struggles in the reaching out of others but look carefully, they're there.  So often we turn away from others because they are facinga challenge or a struggle that we see in our own lives, perhaps its one that causes pain or shame or grief. To see vulnerability is to recognize that we have had moments of being defenseless. 

Or perhaps, the courage we see in them, the push-back that others can provide for themselves, is something we were not able to do for ourselves.  In someone else's fight we can recognize that there were moments when we didn't have the courage to stand up for ourselves; that our fear or our perceived weakness overcame our loyalty to ourselves.  Envy can arise when we watch the people around us stand up in defiance to cultural, sexual or ethnic differences. Our anger at them is misdirected, we are angry because we didn't show up for ourselves with the same fierceness. 

On the micro level- meaning not your relationships with the world but your very deep connections with those in your life, its easy to get rigid in relationships about what is right and what is wrong, what is good behaviour, what needs to change.  We may be intolerant of the people closest to us, resistant to their behaviour and justify it with excuses laced in fear or embaressment.  How often does our partner, our parent, our child say something or believe something that makes us cringe because we perceive it as "wrong". Our tolerance for diversity within our own tribe can be minimal and this can be stifling.   Our ideas of ourselves as keepers of moral ground shut down true lines of communication and true connection with the people closest to us.

3 definitions of tolerance from dictionary.com:

1. fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.

This is the macro level, the big picture.  This is where we allow others to be committed to their own beliefs and we stay committed to ours.  We have no fear that letting others be themselves will lure us away from our own promises to ourselves. We now shift the energy of fear of our own values getting lost in dissolution to a pledge, a firm vow to fight, to give room to everyone.  We condemn oppression while staying firmly rooted in our own beliefs.

2. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions, beliefs, and practices that differ from one's own.

This is macro and micro.  We allow those in our lives, as well as others, to have their own values and beliefs.  We seeattachment to beliefs and resistance toward others and we still practice peace. We practice seeing the need to be right, or defensiveness arising and we own it. This can be a tough one on an up-close and personal level.  We have a hard time tolerating the dissenting opinions of those closest to us more so than we do a neighbour or a work aquaintance. This is where we have the opportunity to learn that our reality may not line up with other people's reality, even if we share that space called "daily life".  The more we can tolerate a perspective that's different about a shared experience, the more room we give people to be themselves. This sense of acceptance in invaluable in a relationship. 

3.interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.

This third definition is related to the space of non-dualism.  Instead of filing every bit of information as good, bad, right, wrong, we sit in just being.  Try this, it instantaneously creates peace.  When you cease judging everything, you are genuinely in the present moment. Your tolerance becomes effortless.  Nothing is threatening, nothing is an affront; it just is. 

Tolerance is the pathway to acceptance, and when it comes to our closest ties, acceptance can be the most genuine form of love there is.  When we accept, everyone relaxes.  This is the secret to a love that is long lasting and as deep as a river.  The flow becomes natural and we see we are still on the same team despite our differences. 

Francesca Ter Poorten