We live in a world of minuscule tolerance.
Even little ol’ New Zealand – the ‘idyllic’, ‘green’ and ‘accepting’ colony at the end of the world – isn’t that accepting.
Don’t believe me? Here’s some light reading:
- Half of New Zealand’s prison population is Maori. Yet they only account for about 15% of Aotearoa’s residents.
- Asians are continually blamed for New Zealand’s housing crisis. Yet white people are the ones selling homes for inflated prices.
- Indians are stereotyped as being ‘seedy’, ‘creepy’ or nothing more than taxi drivers.
But this lack of tolerance isn’t about race. It’s rooted in something far more simple – hypocrisy.
Jokes about others are funny. Ones about ourselves are not.
Larger people are ‘disgusting’ and need to lose weight ‘for the good of their health’. But you’re not a ‘real man’ if you don’t drink copious amounts of alcohol.
A man who speaks his mind showcases his leadership skills. Women earn 76 cents on the dollar.
Calling Trump ‘destructive’ for pulling out of the Paris Agreement is noble. Yet those pesky people who harp on about plant-based diets (designed to save the planet) need to keep to themselves.
We are not tolerant. And that’s something that pains me.
Why? Because when I was young, it seemed like the world was full of possibility. I could do anything I set my mind to. There was hope. There was opportunity.
And then something changed.
- the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with.
- a sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.
- the act of allowing something.
Society became more insular and an ‘us vs. them’ mentality began to permeate everyday life.
I don’t know what caused this. Maybe it was 9/11? The war on terrorism? Or simply the fact my naive, rose-tinted glasses slowly began to fracture. What I do know, however, is that it makes me uneasy.
My father tells me I shouldn’t let things like this bother me.
“You’re not responsible for the world, Kyle.”
“Forget about it.”
But some things are easier said than done.
Why? Because a world without tolerance is a world without peace.
And a world without peace is a threat to our very existence.
A bit dramatic? Probably. But warranted? Of course.
As Dee Hock (founder of Visa) once said:
“It is essential to employ, trust and reward those whose perspective, ability and judgement are radically different to yours.”
You don’t have to like everyone you meet.
You don’t have to smile at every person you see, give a stranger a hug or any of those other (well-intended) cliches, either.
But let them be.
You don’t have to agree with their outlook on life; but it’s important to accept that it’s just as valid as your own.
Maybe, just maybe, your weird is their normal?
And maybe, just maybe, to study the abnormal is the best way of studying the normal.
Take a basic tolerance test here: http://www.selectsmart.com/FREE/select.php?client=prejudice