Monday, April 23, 2007

Tolerance Is Not A Four Letter Word

It’s been a while but back a ways I took offense to a bloggers portrayal of the people that live in a particular part of the country from which I was born and raised. Without pulling out the flame-thrower (more like a kitchen match) I posted a reply expressing my opinion regarding their opinion. I then removed their link from our blog. They hacked me off. I thought it was over the top mean in its depiction of the people and their non-urban lifestyles, both economic and social. *I am quite certain they never even knew they were linked to begin with and could have cared even less that I had dropped them.

Eventually I simmered down and after putting the appropriate amount of salve on my injured psyche I found time to reflect on why this had bothered me so. For me it was nothing more than a feeling of having listened to someone talk about someone else behind their back. It reeked of class warfare. And you can add a dash of conservative elitism in there as well (elitism not being the sole domain of liberals as it were). The simple truth is it exposed a weakness in me. While I desire a hide as thick as that of an alligator I instead bruise as easily as a banana. A calm outside demeanor is only hiding a rumbling troubling volcano inside. I hold grudges. I live with things I choose to not accept as a means of self-protection/preservation. I can and do feel physically sick when moved to anger. I am not physically violent but emotionally I will engage in verbal fist-a-cuffs. Controlling my temper has taken years of work, beginning my senior year in high school and continuing through today. *If allowed approximately 30 minutes to cool down, it is a known fact that I will agree to most whatever it is my wife wishes or expects from me. It’s more of an ego thing with me for the most part. She knows it. Even helps me get past it. I love that woman.

So where is all of this leading…? I’m getting there. Sort of.

Whether it’s the extended “Waiting” period and the tangle of jagged nerves that goes with it or simply a matter of being exposed to more adoptive bloggers, I find I’m gaining depth to my new found alligator hide. More truthfully, I think I’m slowly developing duck feathers complete with their nature provided oil glands to help contrasting opinions roll more easily off my back. *More easily – not always. Much more work left to do on that. Posting your adoption plans and opinions can be a mine field. One false step (in someone else’s opinion) and boom! Get out your fire retardant suit. I have jokingly referred to “those people” (as opposed to you and me) as the Adoption Taliban. They also hack me off. While my heart says to love them, I continue to not like them very much. This group has decided that any opinions expressed other than those that line up behind theirs are wrong and in need of serious correction. *I’m thinking more along the lines of they can bite me and while they’re at it maybe grow up a bit.

I think we’re there. So I ask. Where are you on your journey of tolerance towards others?

My journey continues to stretch me both spiritually and secularly. I continue to boil inside but less so and less often. My differing chiseled in stone (take no prisoners approach) opinions are still too often used to define who you are and I foolishly let the opportunity to better know you slip past. Principles without tolerance breeds injustice and prejudice. Tolerance of opinions and behaviors allows for me to decide my own course of liberty and action and to fight to ensure the same for you. We only need not impede each other in that pursuit. We can disagree. However, our freedom to choose what is right for us individually is shared common. *This is where the nitpicking is sure to pick up. But Ford! Are you saying everyone should just be allowed to do whatever they want?!? (fm:Thinking that shallow may be an indication you need to do a little real world stretching yourself). Is he talking abortion? I think he’s talking abortion! No, I think he means gay marriage. Really? I thought he was a Christian? I don’t think so; I think he’s a democrat. Oh….

So pick your poison. Adoption. Politics. Religion. Family. Work. Life. Each other… Bottom line is very few if any see the world exactly the way we do. No surprise there. It’s just surprising that we so often react as though they should. And we act bitter, hurt, upset, mad and sometimes just plain downright ugly about it when they don’t. Some seem to almost mount a crusade to save us from our own misguided ignorance. *Ah, did he have to use the word crusade? Everyone knows you can’t say crusade today. It either labels you a republican neocon or a holy roller. But I thought you said he was a democrat? Quiet, you never know who might be listening and besides… he gets so darn defensive being the un-patriotic heathen hypocrite that he is.

I continue to find it enjoyable and heartening to read blogs full of hopes, dreams and opinions. Of course this provides an opening for the flame-throwers, the courageous (insert facetious) anonymous posters and the ever present, ever correct, ever thought policing Adoption Taliban (Johnny uses a very descriptive and most appropriate terminology of his own). I’d like to think I’m learning to be more tolerant. But it's hard. So very hard...*Is he through? I think so, the soapbox is gone. What was that all about? Who knows? He gets this way and all of sudden he gets to thinking he's some kind of great philosopher sharing all this great insight. I thought he was a democrat? How would he be so smart? Dollar to a donut he listens to that NPR liberal, pinko, troop bashing, climate changing crap instead of God fearing, tell it like it is, fair and balanced Talk Radio. Tolerance! That’s the trouble with the country today.



Dawn, Brian & Guinness said...

Wow!!!! My hat is off to you and the other brave bloggers out there who aren't afraid to bring up thoughtful & controversial topics.

My DH and I are bleeding-heart liberals with MANY (really) conservative friends and family members. We debate the controversial topics of the day, All Of The Time. And instead of taking offense to our differing views, we rather enjoy the sparring matches because they makes us all "THINK".

If there was more discourse, communication and thinking and debating without recrimination in this world... I think this planet would be a magnificent place!! :)


Johnny said...

It's hard to follow the golden rule. With the speed of the world today, sometimes the "send" or "publish" button is a bit too fast.

But to realize you have imperfections is a good tap of the brakes to saying something that you may regret.

Recently, some blogs have had steam coming out of my ears. Then, I slapped my hands.

They certainly have the right to their views.

Ouch, but the right thing to do.

Lee-Anne said...

You are funny Ford! (ooo! I'm not laughing AT you!!! I was laughing at your last italic paragraph!!!)

Yep. I've been wounded by words said/read. And apparently I've wounded someonelse. It mortified me. I nearly deleted my blog. I stopped and put it all in perspective. It's MY blog! It's my journal. They're my thoughts. I certainly don't intend to hurt or offend. But not everyone thinks like me, so it's truly possible that I will. I can't make everyone see my point of view, nor do I wish to. I'm a big fan of freedom of speech and opinion. I don't agree with all my fellow adopters, but I'm not going to get in a stand up arguement over it - haven't we all got bigger issues in our lives? At the end of the day - if I'm offended by something I read - I don't go back there, and I know I'll get over it.

It's merely one persons view.

Sorry... that was very long!!!

rubyiscoming said...

As usual, a well-written thoughtful post, Ford! Too true that we ALL believe we are tolerant and accepting...until someone writes/says something that is a complete dichotomy to our own beliefs.

We are a motley bunch in bloggy world and, like Johnny says, we need to breathe and slow down before pressing "send." And, remember that we are all entitled to our views. Even me, the resident left winger :)

Don and Be said...

I believe your blog is right where it should be - after all, it's a blog about your adoption journey seasoned with a great look at your family life. You express a lot more - and I applaud you for it -than you're going to see on my blog which is a veritable *Fluffapallozza* in comparison. Maybe I'll start leaving myself some slicing comments anonymously just to spice it up a bit. Even so, I got hit with a few 'adoptionistas' when I posted some cartoons about China culture - Ooooooo - the insensitivity of it all.
I'll end by saying that if I posted a majority of what is in my twisted mind, the whole journey (mine, my wife's & my future daughter's) could be in jeopardy were it up to a few.
God Bless You, bro,

C.J. said...

I love the way you wrote this post. It gave me a wry smile and made a great point at the same time.