Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Joys of Tolerance

Imagine if everyone looked like you, thought like you, dressed like you, ate like you, smelt like you, and spoke like you…imagine how boring that would be.

Now imagine if you did not accept, hated, made fun of people because they did not look like you, did not dress like you, did not eat like you, did not smell like you, and did not speak like you...imagine how intolerant you would be.

Tolerance is a gift that only the enlightened is blessed with. Appreciating difference is the closest way to acknowledging that we are the same deep down inside. It is the only way to be in touch with our humane and empathetic sides. Learning to appreciate difference is the first step in learning to enjoy life and to love one’s self.

Today we are surrounded with countless divisions (poisons) disguised as Muslim, Christian, Sunni, Shii, Catholic, protestant, black, white, Jordanian, Palestinian, Saltee, Karakee, Nabulsee, Khaleelee, and so on and so forth. With all these choices.....what choice do we make?

One of my favorite philosophers, Michel Montaigne, wrote in one of his essays what must be the most beautiful description of what any civilized person should aspire to be:

“I am not guilty of the common error of judging another by myself. I easily believe that in another’s humor which is contrary to my own; and though I find myself engaged to one certain form, I do not oblige others to it, as many do; but believe and apprehend a thousand ways of living; and, contrary to most men, more easily admit of difference than uniformity amongst us. I as frankly as any one would have me, discharge a man from my humors and principles, and consider him according to his own particular model. Though I am not continent myself, I nevertheless sincerely approve the continence of the Feuillans and Capuchins, and highly commend their way of living. I insinuate myself by imagination into their places, and love and honor them the more for being other than I am. I very much desire that we may be judged every man by himself, and would not be drawn into the consequence of common examples”.

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