Monday, June 18, 2007
To those of you who shared your thoughts on tolerance, thanks for weighing in, and not only did you offer up some great thoughts, you also confirmed that I have some pretty damn cool people reading this blog.
I think Gaz and Terry summed it up best with their comments, but, as if often the case, Cinzano's comments spun my mind in a completely different direction when I found myself thinking that perhaps familiarity could do quite a bit to aid in creating tolerance. And, let's face it, this world really could stand to stop bickering over silly little things for a good long time.
The problem is, there are a great many intolerant people out there who, rather than take the time to learn about what they are hating and why they are hating it, would chose to remain in ignorance for no good reason whatsoever. And, I've always felt that ignorance leads to assumption and that lack of understanding subsequently leads to fear and hatred.
Anyway, the reason why tolerance is on my mind is the result of an odd story involving a friend of mine who I'll call "Chuck."
Chuck's a nifty guy. He's unbelievably smart, and he's one of the nicest people I've ever met. He's got a good career, a great apartment in the city, and good family with whom he's remained close over the years through any number of typical family struggles. He's a patient guy, and he's also gay.
The only perceptible difficulties in life for my friend Chuck come from his brother's wife --a very Christian woman I'll call "Marge"-- who has all but exiled Chuck from his brother's life based solely on the fact that Chuck is attracted to men.
In my dealings with Marge, she's always been incredibly kind and an all-around wonderful human being toward me. In fact, she's shown probably more patience and tolerance for me and my antics than I'm sure I really deserved. I mean, let's face it, sometimes my actions could be proof that God doesn't exist since I'm pretty damn certain he'd have struck me down a long time ago.
However, this isn't about me. It's about my buddy Chuck who, though I have no idea how, can actually sit there and suffer this relentless display of hypocrisy and this sort of "conditional tolerance" and shrug off the actions and animosity of his sister-in-law with the sort of apathy one uses to shrug off a rainy day or a piece of burned toast. And, he does so without uttering a single bad word about her. I don't know how he does it, but he's always amazed me at how he is able to show more tolerance than a woman whose beliefs are based upon a religion that's supposed to promote tolerance.
Now, as Cinzano pointed out, maybe there's hope for Chuck and his sister-in-law. It's been several years since she's been a part of their family, and perhaps if they spend more time together, they might accept one another as a result of simply understanding one another better.
Who knows, huh?