Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Countering intolerance at a personal level

For the last few weeks, no, months, I have been mulling over this trend of rising intolerance in different parts of the world. It’s as though all the racists, bigots, and ignorant ass wipes had a late night global meet to unleash their hate on the world. And now intolerance is on the rise. Now different thoughts and opinions aren’t tolerated, let alone different people. 
It’s a sad time when individuals, groups, communities,and entire nations are praying to be tolerated by the rest. What went so wrong with us as a society that we think tolerating someone/thing is a privilege we bestow on them? Sorry, but mere tolerance just doesn’t cut it. Don’t just tolerate the minorities, the refugees, the rebels and reformers, accept them as they are and respect them for what they are and could become. As a woman I don’t want people to just ‘tolerate’ my presence in the public space, I want them to respect it. As a Muslim I want to be embraced by my fellow citizens of the world as another human being on this lonely planet, the only planet we have, rather than be just put up with. 
Yet, Intolerance still trends. But then, this intolerance can’t arise from a vacuum, can it? I have come to believe that all of us, yes ALL OF US, have seeds of this intolerance buried within us. The only difference is some proudly showcase it to the world while exhibiting their bigotry, and others manifest it within the four walls of their homes. 
While we complain about those who want to close the borders to the refugees, how many of us look inside and reflect on the borders we have sealed, the electric fences we have put up against our own? We brush over our own moments of intolerance- frustration with our spouses for not being exactly who we want them to be (without changing ourselves a bit), getting irritated with the little quirks of our family, tapping our feet and sighing loudly for a few minutes' delay at the checkout counter, honking impatiently the moment the signal turns green. These are small things but they are indicative of how, at some level, we all are intolerant.
So while I can’t probably exert any influence on border issues or have a say in the refugee crisis or change a bigot’s mind, there are some small things I can do to extract these seeds of hate from my own heart. Here are the things I want to do to make my little spot in this world a brighter place-
•Hug my husband a little tighter each day. Be grateful for the wonderful person I have as a partner rather than count his flaws.
•Celebrate my family and friends in all their craziness. The quirks are what make us, US.
•Smile a little wider at a stranger (even if it creeps them out)
•Appreciate the little moments in between the big events. Whether I tap my feet or not, time will still flow at its own sweet pace-right?
• Be grateful for loved ones, peace, security, food on the table, and a roof over my head. Realise that this is not everyone's reality, be empathic.
•Grab every opportunity to be kind, to show a little mercy, to lend a helping hand.
•Be patient. Not sweat the small stuff.
•Forgive gracefully, apologize sincerely.
•Listen. Listen. Listen.
•Be kind to myself and not beat myself up for my shortcomings. How can I ‘tolerate’ others, when I can’t accept myself? 
So that’s my list. What’s yours?

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