The Intangible Benefits of Tolerance
Life is already hard enough. Ease up on Everyone and everything.
When I interact with other people, I am mindful that they’re already doing the best they can do. Whatever they’re doing, they just can’t do it any better than they did it. Even if I feel irritated about someone’s behavior, that voice comes up from the back of my mind. “But he did right before, why not this time?”
This is it. This is as good as it gets.
There is a lack of tolerance in the news and in social media. Terms like cancel culture, culture wars, and polarization are popular in the media we consume. It’s clear that our tolerance for each other is lower than it used to be.
I believe that the root cause of our lack of tolerance for each other can be found in the assumptions we make about each other. So much mind-reading by people who are not at all capable of mind reading.
We tend to be suspicious of motives. We assume that people are basically selfish and that they’re not thinking about “us”. What a crime. We often assume that the “others” are simply not motivated to do better. And we can use all of that as an excuse for confrontation and punitive responses. Let me give you an idea of how perverse even reasonable people can get to be.
I’m driving my car. The boulevard is busy, traffic is heavy, but it’s moving. As we approach an intersection the light turns from green to yellow. The driver in front of me taps his breaks like he’s going to stop. I depress the brake pedal because I’m not sure that he’s going to stop or go. But he keeps going. I’m already going too slow to make the light, and I think, “Hey! You tapped the brakes just to leave me behind!”
Our suspicion of each other often looks like that. The waiter who goofed our order in the restaurant did it on purpose. The guy ahead of us in line at the check stand isn’t wearing a mask to make a political statement. An overbearing, micromanaging manager at work is more interested in his ego than the work his workers do. The GOP wants to own the libs. The libs are secretly collaborating with the Chinese to turn America into a communist country. Joe Biden and Donald Trump are both feigning mental decline to ensure that we’ll never ever see a Green…