Monday, October 4, 2010

Tolerance, Understanding, and Inclusion

"In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are."-Max DePree

I grew up in a conservative home.  My adoptive father was a part of the World War I generation.  My mother's family was originally from California, but they were entrepreneurs.  Well, at least my grandfather was.  And we all know that business people-especially self-made ones-tend to lean a little towards the right.  I was mostly raised in the politically conservative State of Colorado and brought up under religiously conservative doctrine.  Somehow my mother turned into a self-proclaimed Democrat following the divorce, after years of backing up whatever my father said.  Go figure.  Maybe if you're born in California you never really lose your liberal streak.  There's got to be some reason why my grandparents, along with my uncle, returned there.  Some underlying reason besides the warmer weather, palm trees, the ocean, and the fact that an M.D. can probably charge more for his services in San Francisco than Chicago.  Perhaps I should ask.

Anyway, I've always considered myself to fall somewhere in the middle.  Sometimes I agree with the "left," other times I agree with the "right."  I'm a Libra-we can't really make up our minds so we choose the middle fence.  We're kind of like the Switzerland of life.  We're certainly not the ones you ask when you need a clear, concise, and quick decision made. 

But, like most people, I can get pretty adamant about a few topics.  One of them is intolerance of differences.  Maybe it's my sensitivity, but I just can't fathom why someone would think that it is ok to bully someone else because they have a different belief system or lifestyle.  Well, being an empath, I can understand it in a sort of vicarious sense.  You do it out of fear, ignorance, or because you're unable to wrap your mind around the fact that the world really isn't black and white.  You haven't considered the possibility that perception isn't in fact reality.

There have been many "minority" groups throughout history that have fought to have their voices heard, their perspectives validated, and their rights as fellow human beings recognized and accepted.  None of those "groups" are one hundred percent there yet.  Violence against women still exits, we hardly have "equal opportunity" and "equitable pay" when it comes to pursuing a career, misperceptions about what the role of women in society should be still exists, and we're still made to feel guilty and inadequate when we make certain choices.  Racism, whether we'd like to admit it or not, still exists.  This includes reverse discrimination as well.  Believe me, all one has to do is live below the "Bible Belt" for awhile to witness and experience it firsthand.  There are many other intolerances and misperceptions that I could elaborate on.  Too many, I think.

As evolved as our American society thinks it has become, we still have a long way to go.  I think that it's sad that in 2010 (almost 2011), we still have an unwillingness to not judge others.  Some of us still have some sort of inner drive to punish those who don't fit into the lines of the "majority's" molding.  I don't get it.  It angers me.  Everyone has a right to their own beliefs, their own choices, their own self-identity, their own path.  They have a right to be who they are and they shouldn't be afraid to do so.

There is a thin line between expressing your opinion about someone else's existence and attempting to impose your own set of beliefs onto them-by force or exclusion.  In my opinion, that act of imposition is what should not be tolerated.  No one has the right to tell someone else how to think, how to feel, and what and whom they should be.

I don't know what the answer is or if there even is one.  Sometimes even when you attempt to educate someone about differences and the fact that they're as natural or innate as the color of one's hair and eyes, they still don't get it.  They continue to believe what they always have.  They continue to uphold their perception as reality because to do otherwise would mean that they themselves might have to question who they really are.    

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