(Warning: This piece is sort of a rant. Ironically, it’s about intolerance. So, if intolerance makes you crazy, read at your own risk. There is almost no cussing in this piece. Which is unusal. It’s hard for me to rant without cussing.
Which brings me to something I’m curious about. Sometimes, when I rant, I cuss. And THEN, some of you unsubscribe and mention the cussing. Which is really confusing to me, because it’s pretty clear there might be cussing here. DID YOU NOT SEE THAT our tagline is “Quit Your BITCHING. Change Your Life.”????????
See what I mean? Confusing! But, I digress. (Mostly) no cussing in this one, though you might consider toughening up a bit if that puts you off! LORD, I guess I just had a rant within a rant. Sorry. It’s the hormones.
Not too long ago, I spent a really uncomfortable afternoon with people who see the world vastly differently than I. It wasn’t that I don’t understand or appreciate the passion behind their lifestyle – in this case, environmental responsibility.
It was a little edgy though. Their brand of eco-responsibility sort of borders on eco-militance.
Anyway, I’m fine with them living that way. In fact, I think their ideas are REALLY interesting.
Further, it’s actually NONE OF MY BUSINESS that they live that way!
Truly. Some of their environmental protection policies are already in play in our own home. Several of the men that I live with, for example, share their aversion to flushing for Number 1.
Nope. Their lifestyle choice didn’t bother me one little bit.
What bothered me was this one person’s ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that her way of viewing the world was the ONLY way to see it. She wasn’t just okay with choosing how SHE wanted to live. She wanted to pick for everyone else, too.
She made a point of sharing her disdain for other lifestyle choices – my work as an online writer, for example.
I found myself digging deep for kindness as the conversation progressed.
You see, I’ve never been very good with other people’s intolerance. In fact, I’m downright INTOLERANT of their intolerance.
I bristle at sexual intolerance, religious intolerance. I can’t stomach politically intolerant people, or educational snobbery. Gender inequality makes me crazy, of course, as does entitlement in every sense of the word.
Here’s the thing — I understand and respect your right to protest or change your corner of the world. Where it’s difficult for me to support you is when you bring your broom of judgment over to my yard and start sweeping off my patio – or anyone else’s for that matter.
I mean WTF??? (Okay, take a deep breath. I didn’t ACTUALLY say the F-word there!)
In general, I try to have a “Live and Let Live” model for living. Whenever I find myself particularly turned off by another person’s ideas or actions, I DO try to take a step back and ask myself this question, “Why has your choice made me so offended?”
Invariably, whenever I see a flaw in you, it’s because, at least to some extent, I share that very same defect of character. You can’t see something in another person that hasn’t, at least at SOME time, also existed in you. Otherwise, you would have no personal frame of reference from which to even notice their behavior.
In this case, the question I had to ask myself was this – “In what ways am I intolerant of others?”
Well, as already confessed, I’m intolerant of the intolerance of others.
FURTHER, I believe there is no gray area at ALL about certain issues — Child abuse. The denigration of women. Sexual abuse of ANY kind. The abuse of power (I just realized I need to think about that last one a bit. It seems a bit broad.)
Anyway, this is my list.
And I want the right to choose my list. I honestly can’t understand ANYONE not agreeing to my list.
But maybe that’s just the point.
Maybe that’s the place where she and I are EXACTLY alike!
She has her list. She feels good about her list. And she can’t understand ANYONE not fully agreeing to her list.
When it comes to value systems, our lack of mutual understanding and respect is the fertile ground upon which intolerance blooms.
As I said, during our gathering, the conversation turned to my work. My husband was bragging about our Life After Tampons community and what we are building here together.
He was laughing at the piece about me going bald that I had just bravely written, and was sharing with her the depth of your AMAZING responses. (If you missed that one, check it out here!)
But, in her world, internet-based work is one of the things that’s “wrong with this world.” Oh, she used a different little cutting remark, but that’s what she meant.
God love my husband, who is normally not this way – but in this case, he was CHAMPIONING me to the end. He even tried to hand her my card, saying, “You should just check it out. Jen is REALLY funny!’
But she was having none of that.
She wouldn’t even get up and take the card. I imagine it was later lifted off the table and disposed of by a disinfected hand protected by rubber gloves fashioned from the recycled poopy diaper of some underprivileged child in a Third World country.
It just wouldn’t be evolved enough to use the poopy diaper of some baby from Palm Springs, for example.
(Sorry for the sarcasm (sort of). I guess I’m still feeling a bit miffed.)
Anyway, my husband was working the “my wife is amazing angle.” (My mother would have LOVED him for that!)
God love him, every time he would bring up some funny thing about my Menopausal Combover, she actually had the audacity to say – repeatedly – “But you’re LYING!!!” Over and over and over again.
Anyway, she gave her little smiling condeming speech WITHOUT EVER reading the piece. Or, in fact, ANY of our work here at LAT. (Even though we’ve met with them several times since the launch and my husband keeps inviting them to check it out — god love him!!!! (Honey, you can stop trying, now. They don’t give a shit (oops) about it and I LOVE you for trying.))
So now, dammit, I was gifted with ANOTHER resentment! Which means that, since it’s my spiritual practice, I have to look at my own part AGAIN. Not hers. (WTF!!!)
Okay, so back into the solution I go.
It looks like this: At what places in my life am I like that? In what circumstances, do I-I-I, have “contempt prior to investigation?” Oh, love, there is a LONG list for that one.
A commitment to character growth is NOT for sissies, I’ll tell you that. Sometimes I don’t like it AT ALL!!!
The next day, I was “coming clean” with a very good friend of mine. She actually took “my side” a bit and put it in the following perspective:
“It’s all well and good to go on and on about your commitment to your environmental footprint. But what about your Spiritual and Emotional Footprint? Where is your eco-awareness with that?”
In other words, when I enter into relationship with someone – ANYONE – am I aware of how I am in that space? Am I sensitive to their needs? Do I practice economy and emotional and spiritual sustainability in my relationships?
Nope. Not always.
Taking a page from the Boy Scout Handbook, do I ALWAYS leave my metaphorical campground cleaner than I found it?
Are you better off for knowing me? Every time?
Is the world better off because I was here?
Do I take care with my thoughts, words, and deeds, so that I contribute to the health of the planet? Not just the eco-health of the planet. But the SOUL health of this beautiful world and ALL its inhabitants?
Well, if I don’t it is what I ASPIRE to create.
I want to participate in the health of all SOULS.
I want it to matter to you that I was here. I want to so lift others up in this world – particularly women – that they can, in turn, give their very best work to others as well.
I want to be a force for love and service in this world. I want to see you succeed. I want to see your joy. I want to feel you reaching for your OWN DREAMS. In fact, I believe that is why I have been given this particular gift at this particular time in this particular way.
I know that, whether or not I EVER get any attribution, my support of you and your beautiful DREAM, will echo in a very real and eternal way in this world.
I want to live that way. Because, when I DO, the generations before me – the great, great, great, great grandchildren of my children’s children will be better off.
AND because I can FEEL your joy. Truly. I can.
THAT is a sustainability model I can get behind!
Yep, THAT’s the Fair Trade Agreement I want to reach between me and the rest of humanity. I will continue to work on my character and my craft, so that you are better positioned to LOVE AND SERVE in the beautifully artistically creative way that is uniquely you.
If your gift happens to be developing other sustainable models for the health of our planet – all the better.
And, I make you this PROMISE: If you don’t tell me that my work and my life don’t matter, I won’t denigrate your choice to use reclaimed pinecones as environmentally responsible toilet paper.
Even though, to me, that’s just a little too, – well, OUCH!
Okay, three final pieces of business:
1. If you liked this piece, please share this piece with your tribes. It’s how we grow our community. (Social share buttons are right below these notes.)
2. As always, I LOVE and welcome your comments, but please know this –LAT is a community for ALL women. That means we’re TOLERANT of each other. If that is tricky for you, I get it. We allow for growth here. So read, enjoy, rant from a reference point of your OWN intolerance. But NO disrespect or personal attacks. If you’re mean-spirited, I’m gonna block you — sort of FOREVER! Because that reminds me of KL in 4th grade and I’m still sort of sick of her ilk and all the perfect little girls like her.
3. The WINNER of my Bundt pan give-away program is ELLEN. (If you’re confused about what this is, read the post here.) Ellen was chosen because she loves bundt cakes but hates to wash the pan. Well, duh!!! This way, Ellen will have an extra and she can just throw my pan out after baking in it and avoid all that washing drama. (I KNOW. It’s sort of ironical (ha) and NOT very environmentally flawless, but I’m claiming environmental progress rather than environmental perfection!) ELLEN, please let me know where to send your pan — firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Flickr, emdot