Tolerance

25. ALL THE WORLD IS A MIRROR…

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I once met a man who acted exactly like me and I couldn’t stand him. This is the God’s honest truth. As I stood there slack-jawed, watching this person complain, blame, and throw a tantrum, I was both amused and horrified. His behavior was not just disruptive to his own agenda, it was interfering with the duties of those around him. As he flailed about it dawned upon me that all of his energy was being used on the opposite of what he said he wanted; getting the job done. I was a year and a half past my most self destructive behavior when this happened, and I was grateful for having witnessed it. I’d never been so stunned in my life. I was this man; selfish, self-centered, and looking for excuses in my environment that could perpetuate my behavior. I felt sick. I also felt fortunate.

Do I really feel we see ourselves in others? Yes. There is a way to use this observation to  great advantage, and it’s probably not what you think it is. Most people don’t want to openly admit their mistakes or flaws, preferring instead to keep a mental note of what not to repeat should similar situations arise. Fair enough, though the benefits of humility, trust, and respect will flourish when one is quick to admit error to those it has inconvenienced. Since it is rather painful to look at what annoys us the most and try to find that part of ourselves that aligns with what needs purged, I would suggest an entirely different path. Look instead to everyone around you and seek out what is good, beautiful, perfect, and pleasant. In turn you will subconsciously elevate those same qualities in yourself. There is no need to evaluate the “bad” in others when observing the “good” will benefit you more. Don’t get me wrong, just as the beginning of this essay pointed out, I was glad to discover what needed changed. I think it’s easy to see that if I were to be in  constant (negative) judgment, and then go on to justify this state of mind by announcing that I was in search of myself, my ego would simply take over and I would revert to thinking I couldn’t be nearly as “broken” as those I was witness to.

Do not the best of us also see nothing but the best in others? Do not the most negative see nothing but an imperfect and broken world? Think about that for a moment. History has its examples just as our own families and colleagues provide theirs. Consider this, I believe that redemption is available to the worst of us; because if it isn’t available to the worst of us, then is isn’t available to any of us. What this means to me is that there is good in everyone, and I mean EVERYONE. The harder we look for it in others the more we must express it in our own lives. This practice lends itself to a life of love, tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, and empathy.  All of man’s struggles seem to arise from the absence of these five qualities. Let’s not let the opposite determine our actions..

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/worlds-colliding/

20. APPROACHING LIFE POLITELY

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When I was in second grade our teacher, Mrs. Larson, spent an entire day on manners. It made a great impression on me. I learned to open doors not just for girls, but anyone. I learned to say “Mr.” and “Miss or Mrs.” to those I approached (especially strangers) as a way of acknowledging someone with dignity. I learned to show a graceful respect for everyone no matter their appearance or age.  I’ve often wondered how far and to whom her influence has carried itself. Forty years later the ripples in my pond are still there.

I learned very quickly how important politeness is. Some think of it as an attempt at being self-centered or above reproach using such words as snotty, conceited, pretentious, or arrogant to describe this attitude.  I do indeed see how it  might be played as leverage to try and rise above others.  This is not the proper definition nor execution of what I’ve come to understand. Courtesy is the act of putting even the smallest needs for others first; always. This is easily understood when its opposite is realized. Those we know who are the most rude and cocky constantly put themselves first in every situation. They are unkind and impolite. Their self-perceived priorities take precedence. They are extremely unreliable in every situation because when the need for help arises, it’s given only when it benefits them as well.

Putting the needs of others first isn’t just the entire picture. I suppose one could do this outwardly while hiding feelings resentment and jealousy. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve done this, especially in traffic, but I’m also happy to announce that these incidents are becoming exceedingly rare. Being polite isn’t about how I want others to see me, it’s about how I want to see myself. If someone else benefits from something I’ve done, it’s a side-effect, not the goal. I used to become frustrated when my attempts at being civilized weren’t being returned. Someone would yell at me until I finally sunk to their level and yelled back. Not anymore. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of times where I will step up and be a MAN, raising my voice appropriately when the situation calls for it, but I will never be a jerk or insulting.

Do not think that politeness is equal with weakness. It’s not an invitation  to those seeking to take advantage of a peaceful situation. Upon the contrary, keeping a calm and patient exterior (as well as interior) lets nothing unwanted influence you.  Remember, frustration always commits suicide. It cannot survive without a captive audience so it self-destructs. As soon as its given attention it has a reason to re-assert itself which is why the followers of a great many historical blowhards are just as annoying as their leaders.

At the very least ask yourself these questions. Why not be kind? Why not be patient? Why not be empathetic? Why not be generous? Besides, who really does want to become rude, impatient, indifferent, and selfish anyway?

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

8. MY FAVORITE BUMPER STICKER

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I had this bumper sticker printed up years ago and handed them out for free to anyone willing to take one. While it still makes me laugh, I also consider it a very important question.  It’s a little like hearing someone complain about whiners. Not only are they joining in with the same crowd they are trying to distance themselves from, now they’re center stage. I think this is why we should “Love thine enemy as thyself.”

If tolerance is what we want to project, are we not obligated to turn this attitude towards those who receive it the least? When mankind experiences pain somewhere in its “body” shouldn’t this demand care and healing? We seem to point towards what isn’t working in our society and do our best to fight it rather than help it. We praise that which is already doing well and insult what isn’t functioning properly. In my opinion this attitude is destructive and immoral.

No one wants to be around a hypocrite. People that do this are fooling themselves into believing that by putting everyone else down, they don’t have to work at doing anything to look good. We witness this unethical “sleight-of-hand” all the time in various incarnations. The “I’m right and everyone else is wrong” syndrome is, unfortunately, very common.  “No one does what I tell them to do” equals “I’m perfect, they’re flawed.” “No one comes up with better solutions than me” equals “I’m brilliant and they’re stupid.” “Others don’t do nearly as much work as me” equals “I’m productive, they’re useless.” “Everyday I fight bad drivers on the way to work” equals “I’m courteous, they’re rude.” All of these are hypocritical attitudes. No one is perfect. This is not a generalized judgment; I simply mean that there is always room for improvement.  The trap of thinking you’re beyond reproach is to invite a lifestyle that will convince itself there’s no need for progress.   Those who try to position themselves into a brighter spotlight by negative promotion lose all credibility. They don’t realize their audience is  instinctively aware that they’re unwilling to become better.

I would love to think I am past this kind of behavior but I’m not. On occasion I catch myself playing the victim. My moments of “poor me” are a lot less pronounced than they used to be, but at least I have the ability to recognize them. This “role” leaves a bitter taste, I assure you.  I’ve learned  there are countermeasures for this habit.

  1. I stop trying to be better than the rest of the crowd, I simply commit to being better than I used to be.
  2. My personal standards are far beyond what others expect of me.
  3. I acknowledge where talent lies. When I’m seen as someone who gives credit where credit is due, I notice people are more eager to work as a team. Everyone wants some sort of recognition for their contributions. Sometimes nothing more than a “Thank You” makes all the difference, especially when it’s done in public. I know it does for me.

I think it’s amazing just how many don’t do this. It’s too bad that the ones who do this stand out so prominently. They are a rare breed; I wish they weren’t.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood