For years I have thought of myself to be open-minded. I grew up in a culture with regressive views on things to do with women’s roles and homosexuality. I grew up with the culture and people around having conservative views on a lot of things including religious beliefs. Yet, somehow, I turned out different. I decided I didn’t like organised religion — any of them and yet, figured I could leave people to follow what they wanted as long as they didn’t preach to me. I embraced homosexuality as nothing out of the ordinary and was shocked to find out it was illegal in India. I figured women could do anything they wanted just like men.
Suffice to say, I was pretty proud of myself. For breaking the norm. For being an independent thinker. For being so open-minded in spite of everyone and everything telling me otherwise.
Until recently, that is.
In recent times I’ve come to realise I am not as tolerant as I think I am. Sure, I’m open-minded and accepting of a lot of things but these things do turn out to be what I’d like to think is the ‘majority’ view. Or at least currently, the majority among people I know and meet and the stuff I read.
But am I tolerant?
Dictionary.com defines tolerance as “a fair, objective and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial, or ethnic origins, etc. differ from one’s own”
When I look at that, I realise, I am probably not at all tolerant. I’m open-minded but I am really intolerant of those who are not. I am intolerant of conservatives who hold views opposing equality, homosexuality, freedom of expression, freedom to practise religion. I realise sometimes, I don’t even care to listen to what comes out from the mouths of conservatives. That I’ve judged them before they speak. That I get emotional and angry. That I argue and fight.
Conservatives have very different views to me. I’m quite liberal and open-minded and I do notice I judge conservatives harshly. That I make a judgement-call on their personality.
What makes all this harder is being in a relationship with someone with conservative views. Even before a conversation can get to the nitty-gritties, I find I get defensive and critical. My lack of tolerance means I rarely hear things out. That I attack before hearing the entire piece or even attempting to understand where they may be coming from.
End result? Unhappiness and resentment.
It pains me to realise this part of my personality. I, who thought how great it was that in spite of slightly conservative parents in some aspects, I turned out oh-so-awesomely open-minded.
But I’m not. I’m just as bad as the conservatives I like to denounce. By not being tolerant of their views. By not allowing them a chance to express them. By shutting them down.
Yes, there are some things I can never be tolerant of. Violence against women and children, for instance. But other things? I’m sure I can listen and have a conversation without getting into an argument or being critical. Without getting all stroppy and personal? And surely with this, the other person is also likely to listen and to take into account a different view.
It’s about time I learnt to be tolerant of those with different views.
At least I’d be less stressed.
What about you? Are you tolerant?
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Prompts for this week:
1. Tolerance: Do you believe you are tolerant or not? Write a post, or share a story depicting it
2. Are you someone who is always on time, running late or early? Does it even matter?
3. Write about something you learned the hard way
4. “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche Use this quote in a post or as an inspiration for one.
5. Picture Prompt (courtesy Living my Imperfect Life)
Once again, we have two featured writers for last week: Esha, for her inspiring tale on not giving up and Ankita for staying true to herself. If you want to be in the running for featured writer, do join in this week by writing on one of the prompts above.
Until next time,