I read an article today in which a reporter just assumed that the interviewee shared his religious beliefs and was very politely set straight as she informed him that she was an atheist.   It reminded me of an incident recently where I failed to “walk the walk”.

We live in a world where peoples’ beliefs are extremely diverse, where we come from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, and where we might interface with people from a multitude of socio-economic backgrounds on a daily basis.  We enter these situations wearing all of the armor we’ve acquired along with our entire belief system and are not always as understanding and tolerant as we might be.

Bad enough that we don’t give other people and their beliefs the respect they deserve, but too often, one side or another expects tolerance despite the fact that they remain judgmental.  Sadly, the biggest casualty in this confrontation is communication.

Our less than tolerant ways cause us to listen less and form opinions which may be wholly unjustified.   I don’t mean that we stop hearing the words, but that we tune out what the other person is really trying to convey because we’ve shut down the listening part of our hearts. 

Since large changes begin with a single step, I’m going to take this gentle reminder as an opportunity to practice the tolerance I preach and truly listen to other people without interrupting or qualifying, but just opening my heart to what they are sharing with me.  While I don’t expect to change the world with this tiny contribution, I suspect I’ll see changes in my world. 

As timing is everything, this comic appeared on my wall this evening, taunting me until I promised to include it in my blog about making changes.  But seriously, folks, taking that first small step outside of your norm really can be a paradigm shift and it can be a truly enlightening experience!  But beware of falling back into your judgmental ways when someone makes a comment you disagree with. 

Tolerance is the word and requires allowance of disagreement.  In the process, you need to understand that while you’re busy being tolerant and understanding and accepting, the rest of the world might well be judging you and finding you lacking according to their own personal measuring stick. 

This is the point where your tolerance will be truly tested.  Do you react because they are not offering you the same courtesy you offer them?  Do you lash out and stomp your feet?  Or do you calmly accept their right to their opinion, even if it maligns you, smile and walk away?  Clearly, getting into an argument over your disparate ways won’t get you very far because both parties will stop listening, whether consciously or not.  Since your friend with the differing opinion has, in essence, already closed their mind to your viewpoint, slamming your head into a brick wall might have a better result. 

Tolerance, my friend, means knowing when to just stop talking!  And that, in a nutshell, is what I’m proposing to do.  This, then, is me, closing my mouth, and opening my heart to listen.

My gratitudes tonight are?
1. I am grateful to friends who shoe me the good, the bad and the ugly side of tolerance.
2. I am grateful for another opportunity to make an improvement in my life.
3. I am grateful for reasons to celebrate.
4. I am grateful for a reduction in aches and pains as my body becomes more fit.
5. I am grateful for nights when I wind down earlier so I get more snuggle time with my kitties.

Love and light.