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Monday, June 27, 2011

The gift of tolerance

No matter how advanced we become, and regardless of the possibilities we create to connect with, listen to, and learn from brothers and sisters all over the world, there always seem to be groups that oppose others for as many reasons as there are stars in the sky on a clear night. As I was skimming through the news before writing this statement, I read about graffiti hate messages against gays, sprayed at several places in Lancaster, California. "Kills All Gays Now," was sprayed against one wall. "Gays Go 2 Hell" was sprayed on another. This rampage was probably triggered by the news that New York had just become the 6th and most populous state to acknowledge gay marriage. So, some people were obviously feeling that their convictions are losing ground, and they were outraged.

I often wonder what it is that drives people to be so intolerant toward others, even without knowing them. Aversions that are so hefty and so deeply ingrained have often been instilled over time by certain affiliation groups: family, social, religious, political, generational, racial, you name it. Hate is as old an emotion as love. It’s actually the counterpart of love, and it can make us even more aware of the value of love. But hate is not a constructive emotion. It doesn’t only consume the hater and make him or her a problem to his or her environment: it can actually be downright destructive to innocent people!

Intolerance is a destructive mindset, which we all could harbor if we open ourselves to it. But it is also the main reason why so many people suffer in the world. Intolerance makes people withhold things from others, hate others, torture and kill others, steal from others, and – what they often don’t realize: impoverish and cripple their own soul!

Let's all consider a gift we often overlook: the gift of tolerance. We may not always agree with everything, and that should not be a problem, as long as our disagreements don’t lead to pain and destruction of any person or group of people. Celebrating the gift of tolerance and seriously embracing this gift for the rest of our lives, is not only doing others a favor: it’s doing ourselves the greatest favor of all!

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