While a million avenues of thought and reflection surround the concept of ‘tolerance,’ it may be best to start with the word itself. ‘Tolerance’ has always carried with it a slightly negative connotation; we tolerate small children. We tolerate our boss’ awkward jokes. We tolerate bad wigs.
We should be striving for open-mindedness, acceptance and love. To tolerate a person with different sexual preferences or a different complexion or different beliefs is to put up with them, but not necessarily ever learn to accept them. The toxicity will always find a way to jump out.
An open mind is either taught very young and very consistently during one’s upbringing, or must be quite uncomfortably sought-after following a dramatic event in one’s life. You’ve either got it in your toolbox, or you’re shaken up and you need it. Those who never attain an open mind live in their little bubble, within their tiny comfort zone, thinking small and acting small.
Open-mindedness is a bridge to understanding and acceptance; without it you are one of the most dangerous weapons to exist. I (a Gemini) need to be liked; my willingness to be open and listen to new personalities and perspectives has been essential in my quest to be well-received in any given situation. This method is guaranteed to be mutually beneficial to all involved parties. Turns out, inclusion is the shit.
Fear is a glue that can seal a mind shut for any given unit of time--sometimes hours, days, lifetimes or generations. It is human nature to fear what we don’t know or understand, and it is our responsibility to familiarize ourselves with as many things and as many beings as we can so as not to let fear become isolation or aggression or a combination of both. Being open allows for familiarization of fears. Familiarization allows for emotional connection, which makes way for acceptance and further down the path, a potential for love.
It blows my admittedly straight, cis, white lady mind that people can fear an entire community that has only fought for their right to openly love. I’ll let the eloquence escape me for a second; the concept is dumb as hell. I mean, I’ve heard of the “reasons” for such fear, and it all seems to boil down to straight people being afraid of getting inappropriately touched. Last time I checked, though, most of the pervs in this world are straight men. I mean, statistically speaking.
I guess just as cheaters suspect cheating, perverts suspect perving. Stop telling on yourselves.
And like, what’s the worst that could happen? A gay person asks a straight person out? Okay? Each time a queer woman hits on me, my ego inflates like a pool float. As long as women are attracted to me, I’m doing everything right. Stop being so afraid of the world and take a damn compliment.
Open-mindedness is the gateway to love. And love, as they say, is all we need. But I would argue that in 2019, we’re out of practice.
The prominence of social media is, in context of acceptance and love, a double-edged sword. On one hand, you have a plethora of platforms that allow you, through hashtag searches and the ever-faithful art of rabbit-holing, to get lost in worlds you may have previously known nothing about. New knowledge, when served cold like this, requires a certain amount of empathy from its recipient to spark any emotional connection at all. It certainly won’t evoke the same level of connection as in-person conversations would. Stay present during your boredom scrolls--actively remember that these are real people, with real lives and real stories. Hold on to your empathy.
On the other hand, the endless search and scroll requires no real human connection at all, and thus emotion and comprehension may be skewed or lacking. We have to acknowledge the difference between stalking someone’s profile down to their uncle’s first cousin’s youngest child’s first boyfriend versus getting to know them by way of personal interaction. It’s easy to criticize and belittle a picture on a screen. It’s easy to bully by way of thumbs and keyboards. We’ve dehumanized one another by way of technology--it’s much more difficult to be a bitch to somebody face-to-face. If you’re going to be violent, kill with kindness. At least then there’s some creativity required of you. Bullying is so boring.
My experience with tolerance has never been whether or not I’ll practice it--I’ve never considered the option. Open-mindedness has always been celebrated in my family, fortified by an encouragement to travel and to attend college outside of my home state and to experience people and places big and small. I am aware of how lucky I am that I was brought up in an environment so healthy and special and loving. I have grown with (and because of) so many different people who have found their way to my path--those of different colors, cultures, identities, religions and tax brackets. They have touched me vibrantly and powerfully and each time, for the better.
Imagine a world of one color, one identity, one belief, one anything. There’s no fun, no learning, no love. At the very least, try to remember that we’re all a bunch of dumb babies, growi
ng up with no manuals, surviving and learning off of human and environment interaction alone. Some smarter, some richer, some gayer than others. But we’re all here, getting through it, more or less together.
We could all use a lot more love. That’s the tea, and that’s the big fat MOOD this month. Besos.