Tolerance or toleration a fair, objective, and permissive attitude towards those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own.
I think that we all tolerate a lot. I tolerate the race car driver that thinks it is ok to travel forty miles per hour over the speed limit and cut me off. I tolerate the people that walk through my back yard to get to a park just to save themselves ten extra steps. I tolerate the people that throw their trash all over my street each day. I tolerate a lot and the list has barely begun. The thing is, that I may tolerate but I certainly don’t agree and in almost all of the cases I would rather not tolerate. I read this definition and think of the people that I tolerated just today. I am all for tolerance by the way, but it is difficult. Just this morning as I walked Cassidy to the bus stop I was given a perfect chance to teach my daughter tolerance.
A long story short, a neighbor of ours backed into our car causing some visible damage. He had the opportunity to do the right thing and he passed it up. Needless to say, this neighbor is not on my list of people I’d like to have over for dinner, let alone my list of people I’d like to speak to and yet each time we cross paths I feel obligated to wave and say hello.
This is one of those “hellos” that really burns me up. I’m just not sure of what to do about it. It would be very easy to hate this man. It would be easy to never wave and look the other way when he passes. It would be easy to tell the neighborhood about our encounter with him so that they could all feel the same way that I do. All of these things would be easy, and I think they would feel really good… for a moment. The trouble is, the time and work it would take to keep up on my neighbor feud would be exhausting.
I can’t lie, I did remove this man from the Christmas cookie list last year. Sadly, I it was my way of getting even with him, (yes I know it is only cookies) but I have thought about it often since. I feel bad for cutting him off of the list even though it is only cookies. I feel bad because I know deep down that I’m holding a grudge. Deep down I know that I was given the chance to do the right thing and I am passing it up with every “fake friendly” wave and hello.
Even worse than feeling bad about the cookies, I think about what kind of a lesson I have taught Cassidy and Jacob? What would the Voice have to say about my actions? Brian has been very good at holding a grudge in the past. He has gotten much better over the years but I have always tried to steer him to the side of letting it go and here I am holding a grudge. Even as I wave and say my “fake friendly” hello, I am secretly snickering because I know I don’t really mean it. When did I turn into such a nasty person?
When I waved this morning I knew right away that it would be my topic for tonight. I’ve known for a while now that what I am doing is not right. I need to make a decision to let it go. What gain do I have from continuing to secretly dislike my neighbor? I may be showing my children tolerance but I am not showing them how to be a good person. It takes more than tolerating to be kind. That is the lesson I should be teaching.
Tomorrow when I walk to the school bus I am going to make my wave meaningful. Cassidy will probably not notice the difference but in my heart, I will. If I have the opportunity to say “how are you doing” I am going to actually listen to the answer instead of acting like I could care less. I believe this is part of the problem with today.
We all cry out for tolerance in one form or another. We want everyone on an even playing field. The problem is that tolerance is not enough. It never will be. It is the bear minimum that we can do. I can tolerate my neighbor or I can do so much more. I can be a kind hearted person that can forgive and forget. I can set an example for my children, my husband and my community.
I said in the beginning that tolerance is very difficult to do. It is hard to have a permissive attitude when you know you disagree with someone or something. That said it is not an answer to problems. I can’t continue living here seeing this man day after day and only tolerating his existence.
I have always believed that the more you sew, the more you reap. This is one case that I only bothered to sew a few seeds because I felt it wasn’t worth any more. I am reaping nothing from this situation and so as of tomorrow I am planning to change. I am uncertain what good will come of my genuine wave tomorrow but I am sure that I will feel better for letting the grudge go. Step one; Tolerance Step two; More than tolerance.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Don’t worry, our neighbor just might get to taste some cookies after all. I am thankful for the change in my heart and the new perspective!