Friday, May 13, 2011

Tolerance v. Acceptance

There has been something that has irked me for a while, that is the use of the terminology "tolerate".

Too often, I have heard good-hearted and kind people, use that terminology when referring to others. I remember one Sunday class at church when a very sweet lady gave a lesson in the ladies "Relief Society" meeting and said "I was brought up to tolerate all people and love them just the same."

That truly got my juices flowing because I understood where she was coming from, and I understood what she meant, what she really meant even if she did not.

"Tolerance" is nothing more than an acceptable way of "putting up with something". When we "put up" with something, we do not necessarily like it, we certainly do not embrace it; but it is there, there is really nothing we can do to change it or create something different... "better" (in our own understanding), so we'll just "put up" with it and because we are doing that, its OK.

For instance, I remember meeting a family who were very religious. They presented themselves as very nice and kind people, but in truth, were very prejudiced and the very sad thing about it was, they had no idea how prejudice they were, or what harm they were inflicting upon others in their usage of the word "tolerance".

Without regard, they would speak about people who were gay and say "we are really good Christians, and we are taught to tolerate all people and love them, and even those who are gay, we tolerate and love as Christ would."

Hold-up the covered wagons here a moment, "as Christ would"? First off, Christ accepted and loved without having to "put up with". There was a purity in His love and His ministry. Too many self-confessed "Christians" out there need to get back to basics and learn the plain facts about their Lord and Saviour and apply it to their lives.

I find there are more people outside of mainstream Christendom, or religion as a whole, who maybe go against the current of societies "norm" (depending on what society one belongs to), who have more Christ-like qualities and love, than some Christians have in their little finger.

Tolerance is NOT a word I use unless I truly AM tolerating something. Like the toothache I currently have but have been to damn lazy to go to the dentist... Yep I am definitely tolerating it. Or the fact that I live in Arizona and the summer is fast approaching and I can do nothing but tolerate it to get through it.

Tolerate is a word that should never be used in reference to an individual or group of individuals.

We are all different. We all have our paths to walk. We are all on a journey. No one knows the true nature of another's journey (or struggles along that journey), and to simply reduce and dismiss any true embracing and unconditional love with "tolerance", is ignorance to its core.

Acceptance is pure. It is all-embracing and all-inclusive. It does not judge. It simply is. The individual, the situation, simply Is.

I would rather that people are honest with themselves than fool themselves into believing that they are acting in a kind, compassionate, and loving manner when they are "tolerating" another. The one who is "tolerated" knows exactly what is going on; whether cognitive or not, their souls know and this sets them on a path.

Too many people in this world have hang-ups about being themselves and embracing themselves fully, because of others simple tolerance of them.

When I hear that word, I feel dirty. I feel abused. I feel... sad.

And for the "offender" who has used this terminology without complete comprehension, there is nothing to feel guilt over. Simply find honesty within you and make a change. Do you truly only "tolerate" a person, situation, or group, or do you truly accept and embrace them?

It can be a hard thing to deduce and then be honest and completely raw about.

For the one who is religious and trying to emulate the goodness that their religion teaches, it is hard to accept the fact that they truly believe that something, or someone, is an abomination to ones psyche and presence. And years of "tolerance" has made one immune to the stench of that "putrid nature". It is complete and total brainwashing by religious dogma which justifies and serves no one but the ones who first spewed it out. In other words, it's bullshit. No one can truly be judged in such a manner. But that is what man-made religion has condensed and stuffed individuals into such categories... "untouchables" in some societies.

To finally free oneself from the deception of lies that makes one tolerate someone or situation, is liberating. Ones true nature can only set you free.

I do not say to turn against or become nasty to those once tolerated, but rather remove Self from their presence. Be honest in saying to yourself, "I don't like it. I don't agree. I don't wish to be around...".

In our world, there are so many variances and we can't all agree or embrace or love each variance. We have to be true to ourselves.

My main issue is not simply the word and action, it is the falseness behind it. It is the lies and deception.

If one truly accepts in the purest form of the meaning, then one should look at changing their vocabulary to reflect such. Remove "tolerate" from your speech pattern, replace it with "accept".

When I envision the word accept, I feel a warm hug embracing me, loving me, allowing me to truly be me without any "buts" or conditions. I can simply BE without having to worry about anything or anyone around me. I feel no judgment. I feel no need to correct or make changes to anyone. I feel no scrutiny. I feel, free.

Our society has created itself to be where very few can truly live in complete and total acceptance, and very few can truly offer that purist form of acceptance that is Divine acceptance.

Many of us accept and embrace a certain criteria, but still "tolerate" another.

Maybe, it is time that we all look at our Selves. Be keenly aware for one entire day (or go a full-week identifying) how we act or react to certain events or individuals. Note it down if you must and make it a tangible record for you to see, behold, and touch.

As you are out and about, how do you view the vagrant on the street? Do you embrace and accept them, or do you merely tolerate them?

How about the other drivers on the road? Do you fall into the trap of road-rage? What words and emotions do you emit to the other driver?

What about those you work with?

Or the common person on the street, at the supermarket, in the mall; what thoughts are flowing through your mind, conversations with your Self?

And your loved ones? How do you truly feel about them? Do you accept them unconditionally, or could you point out changes that you feel they should make?

If you need to, write down your thoughts, your actions, your words, your feelings, your emotions, etc.

It is a great experiment in seeing how much of our day we are either "tolerating" others, or not even tolerating but rather being outright angry and intolerant, not accepting, correcting, trying to change others.

Be aware also of the feelings you have of complete and total acceptance. Note the difference in the feeling, the emotion, the way you act or speak.

For some, understanding the difference between tolerance and acceptance is difficult. Here is a hint to help you out and help you identify those times when you are being tolerant or accepting.

When you speak to a person or speak about a subject; do you feel yourself holding back in any way - as if there is a barrier between you? Are you weighing your words carefully? Are creating a persona within yourself that you know is created and not true? If you are or do, then that situation is one where you are being tolerant.

When you speak to a person or speak about a subject, are you vivacious and animated? Are you having fun? Are you truly yourself with no "filter" over your mind or mouth and you simply are in a state of being? You have no trouble expressing yourself and you feel love and joy flowing through you as you speak or act. Do you completely and totally feel for the person you are speaking to, or situation you are speaking about, without anything but joy? Without any need to correct, or change, or add in a "but"? This is the pure form of acceptance.

When we accept another or a situation, we have nothing to fear in the way we act or speak. We simply are because we are present. We embrace. We love. We don't hold back because we know that nothing we say or do is done with malice or ill-intent so even speaking directly about the situation or person, is comfortable because we are comfortable.

When we are in a state of tolerance, we can not ever truly let ourselves go in the moment. We are cautious about our words and our thoughts in fear (or concern) we might say, or do, the wrong thing. We are constantly watchful and mindful of every little thing we do, say, or think. We are on the lookout for any opportunity to add where they can make changes or corrections. We look out for areas where we can "help" in changing them, improving them (or the situation). We can not truly be satisfied and constantly have to look to improve. What it boils down to is that we can never truly be free in the situation or around the individuals.

In essence, we are holding ourselves prisoner and we have sentenced ourselves to life without parole.

It truly is not anyone's fault that one is caught up in this sort of belief pattern. It is society and upbringing and environment that forms a person. No one is to blame. There truly is no fault. To find blame or fault is to perpetuate a cycle that needs to end.

Our world truly is not tolerant, and it is not accepting. But we can change that. If each person reading this were to experiment for one day, or one week, in learning what they are accepting of and what they are tolerant of, it would be a start.

Once one knows and understands, and is honest about the differences, focus on what it is about the aspects on the "tolerance" side that offend you.

Maybe you have a cousin or a friend or a neighbour who is gay. What is it about them being gay offends you? Is it them being gay or the idea of anyone being gay? Understand your feelings. Identify your truth. Could it possibly be that there is fear and ignorance of those who are gay? How do you identify someone who is gay? Is it only about the sex or that you feel they could never possibly love to the same degree as a heterosexual person? Do you look at them as being gay or choosing to be gay? Is it a religious aspect? Have you ever spoken with someone who is openly gay and asked them what it is like for them? How was it coming out? Did they have fears? What fears did they have? Or simply ask them why they are gay? The more you can get understanding and comprehending of your own feelings and emotions, and then understand from someone first hand, you will be able to find a better understanding of the situation and comprehend your feelings even more after the fact.

What about the homeless person; is it that they are homeless? Or do you view them as being lazy? Do you think that all homeless people are drunk or drug addicts or have mental illness? Does the idea of homelessness frighten you? Does a homeless person scare you? Why? Do you feel that someone who is homeless has simply wasted their life away? What makes you feel or think this way?

And so on...

When you can identify what the core of the issues are, where YOU fit into the perceptions that you have; then you can start to turn it around.

It is very easy to judge. To hide that judgment behind simple "tolerance". Often, we judge to turn things away from ourselves and our true feelings about our selves.

Often, the very things we judge others for, are a direct reflection of something deep within ourselves that scare us. So we deflect, and we turn it outwards and find an object that we can target.

When we hide behind the idea of tolerance, and delve into a relationship or activity within the bonds of that which we are tolerating, we are hiding behind it even more. We make it "okay" to mask the truth because we are "working within" the bonds. But when we don't like something, but we do it anyway, what service is that truly doing for us?

In the end, everything turns back towards our Selves and who we are, what we are keeping buried, and why we are doing it.

A few years ago, my husband and I were approached by two very drunk, very large, very offending pee-smelling, homeless Native American (Indian) men. It was late at night and we were leaving a restaurant after dinner with friends, when these two men came upon us asking for money. I felt impressed to start talking with them, learning about them. My initial fears were soon replaced with compassion and understanding. 

I learned that the larger of the two, who was a severe diabetic, was a scared "man on the run" and was wanted on the reservation for murder. I did not ask details of the murder, but only that he was remorseful and as scared as he was, he only wished to go back home to his family, but fear prevented that. On top of that angst, was the knowledge that he was Chief of the clan since his father has passed, and his running away left a clan without a leader, completely abandoned.

Arriving in Phoenix, he had no money, no job or job skills, and he had started taking a liking to liquor and beer that dulled his memories and his pain. He began living on the streets, and soon his whole world was that of a street-sleeping, pan-handling drunk.

As the tears fell from this mans face, and the sobs racked through his body, and cries telling me that he only wanted to "go home", and the disease of alcoholism and terror holding him back, I felt nothing but love and compassion for him. I embraced him and held him close to me as he sobbed, the tears forming streaks down his dirty face and landing on my shirt. I did not care. In that moment, I was swept up in compassion and complete and total love for this man. His companion stood by watching and sobbing silently in his own grief of his life story, and the love and acceptance that was being shared. 

My husband and I went and bought them a good size meal, the younger and smaller of the two wanted a strawberry milk-shake, a rare treat surely. I told them that we would not give them any money, but we would give them a meal, something they had not had in days. The love and deep appreciation they offered in their humble "thanks" was enough. 

I did not care that my nice outfit was now stained with dirt, and that I smelled of strong smelling urine - these things can be washed, or bought new. All I cared about in that instance was letting these two men know that they are loved, regardless of their situation or their past, they were not judged but embraced and accepted. 

While I have no knowledge of what happened to them, I know that that night healed me in so many different ways. I felt an acceptance of these men that I never had before. I looked past the dirt, the smell, their foreboding sizes, the fear, and simply and completely accepted them and loved them.

As I stood in the shower that night, I cried. I cried for all the years that I had held my own judgment against others. Not knowing circumstances, or situations, or their "why"; I simply judged based on my own conception of what was right or what was wrong. But that night, as I stood in the shower, tears falling from my eyes intermingling with the fresh water from the shower head; I felt alive. I felt a love surging through my body I never had before. I released the past down the shower drain, and prepared for a new future of accepting and understanding if I ever felt I needed to "tolerate". And soon, that vulgar word, erased itself from my psyche and speech. 

In understanding the difference between tolerance and acceptance, we can truly free our Selves. Not just in the honesty of how we truly feel, but rather WHY we feel. Where did it come from. When we can find the seeds, we can identify our true Selves and our true nature. Once that is accomplished, we will see more acceptance; embracing, unconditional loving, and positive change.


©Leyla Hur
All Rights Reserved. Copying, altering, displaying or redistribution of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited.

1 comment:

  1. Well said!

    Meanwhile, I would love to read your wise thoughts on the people in life who abuse a friendship. I seem to attract people who take my love and friendship, know that I am not a person who retaliates in conflict and then find it acceptable to use me as their whipping boy (girl!) when they feel the need to do so. Rarely does an apology follow...