On Intolerant Tolerance

It was at the moment I apologized, rather insincerely, when I was set aback by her stubborn response. I’d left the air-conditioning on, with the window wide-open. So what? I’m human, I make mistakes. Get over it. Stop trying to change me.

I wish you were more sympathetic. If only you’d stopped for a moment, and beneath all that rage, shed a bit of understanding. Perhaps you would see that people forget. Perhaps you would see that they, too, regret.

The A.C. isn’t the issue, obviously. It’s a symptom of a much larger problem. My mom and I have this nagging desire that the other change. If only this, if only that, it would be okay.

In retrospect, I gave myself too much credit for apologizing. I don’t think I wasn’t the ‘better man’ in that case, but the principle victory was Pyrrhic. Deep down, my belief remained as it was. I am better than you, Mom.

What a fictitious dichotomy I hold in my head. Whenever confronted with someone rigid, narrow-minded, angry, I immediately think, “if only they were as open minded as me.”

That is the most close-minded thought one could ever have.

I pride myself in my tolerance. And this pride has led me to feel entitled enough to rebuke others in my head for not being tolerant enough. How immensely intolerant.

This is the final obstacle. The final stepping stone towards true openness, and not feigned sympathy. There’s a thin line between actual understanding, and feeling misunderstood. There’s a thin line between true tolerance, and oblivious arrogance.

I’ll end with a quote by Marcus Aurelius, one of my favorite philosophers:

“Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness — all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own — not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.”