Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tolerance: An Obvious Lesson

Yesterday's run took me past one of my very favorite art installations in all of Houston. 

I wish these pictures could do them justice. There is just something so peaceful and calming about these guys. You should see them at night. They are such an awesome addition to our trail system. 

The name of this art installation is Tolerance. 

Could there be a more obvious lesson?  I didn't even have to try to think of a blog post, this one was just waiting for me along the trail. Tolerance. 

Doesn't the world just need a little (a lot) more tolerance?  Wouldn't that solve so many of our problems?  Isn't intolerance (social, political, religious, sexual, racial, or just in general) really at the heart of most of our unrest?  The unwillingness to accept, consider, or tolerate any views outside of our own has pitted family member against family member, friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor, and country against country for all of time. Intolerance has caused so much hurt and violence, yet we can't seem to shake it. 

What if we looked  at what is behind intolerance? What would we find? I think if we looked at the true root cause of intolerance, we'd find some serious fear. The truth is, we are all afraid of the unknown.  Ideas and people who are different from us plain ol' scare the hell out of us. I think it's okay to admit this. In fact, admitting to the fear is what will lead to the release of the fear. For most of us, life starts out pretty homogenous. We are born into a family who, most likely, all look and believe and act in the same as us. That family tends to associate with more people who look and believe and act in the same manner. So, when we are eventually exposed to people who look or believe or act differently, our first inclination is fear. Here is the thing, it's what we do with that fear that becomes so dangerous. When, instead of looking to overcome or understand the fear, we try to cover it up with anger and rejection, we open the door to intolerance and all the ugliness that comes with it.
So, why do we need to become more tolerant?  Well, aside from the obvious and most important answer of peace, tolerance and acceptance of others will make us a better society of humans.  Do you remember when we were little in school and our teachers would put us in "think groups?"  We would get a problem and all have to work together to come up with the very best solution.  Our teacher didn't put us in groups with our friends who were just like us.  She put us in groups of kids with different backgrounds, ideas, and experiences.  And it was because of these differences that we would eventually reach the best solutions.  One person putting out their idea, with the next expanding upon it based on their knowledge and opinions, and the next person taking it even further, and so on.  Well, this is exactly how life is meant to be.  We were all created different so that we could all together become better. 

We have to stop being afraid of our differences and learn to celebrate our differences.  How can do that?  Start focusing on what we do have in common.  We must realize just how much we all have in common in spite of our social, political, religious, sexual, and racial differences.  We are all humans with the same insecurities and fears. We are all capable of knowing true love and excruciating heartbreak.  There is a common that is woven around and connects us all.  The key to tolerance of our differences is the acknowledgement of our sameness. 

I don't know how many times I've said it on this blog, but we are all on this long run together.   

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