Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Let's Talk About Tolerance

Last weekend, in a moment of frustration unrelated to a Facebook post I had just read, I decided that enough was enough.

Over the last few weeks I have tried to have open discussions with several people I had begun noticing posting hate-speech and anti-refugee/religion/race related things. Usually, I try not to take these things to heart, because it’s social media, not real life. However, something in me snapped after reading a post that basically questioned the Canadian Government’s decision to allocate financial resources to immigrating refugees into the country when other groups at home were suffering. At first, I just kept scrolling by. But then I thought about it for a moment and decided, like I did with several others lately, that this would be a good one to engage. I tried to highlight that while, yes, there are multiple groups who could use financial aid and social structures that could certainly use an improvement, at the end of the day, we needed to show compassion for everyone, not just select groups. This turned into a few back and forth comments, and ultimately I realized it was going nowhere. I had two choices, end the conversation and do nothing, or end the conversation and remove said individual from my list of “friends.”

But this wasn’t enough. I thought about the interview I had for the position I’m currently employed by. I was asked two difficult questions – one about how I’d handle someone trying to enforce their religious beliefs on me, and another about how to handle homophobic opinions. To the first one, I responded honestly by stating that most people learn very quickly not to ask me about my religious beliefs, or try to win me over with theirs. Why? Because I ask A LOT more questions than they are usually prepared for! But to the second one, I had to think about it. And, I thought about it aloud*. And what I concluded was, there are ways to move out of a situation one is uncomfortable in, but ultimately, I do not accept such talk when I’m in Canada, the UK or where ever I happen to find myself, so why should I accept it when I’m in my current home.

I don’t tolerate hate, whether I identify with the targeted group or not. I don’t tolerate hate, whether or not I share the same belief or background. I don’t tolerate hate, because I want the world to be a better, wiser, more accepting place that is open to all walks of life. So, upon ending and acting on the Facebook post, I posted a separate one on my own page stating that I wouldn’t tolerate this negativity anymore.

I received a few comments that accused me of being close-minded, for which a few were open to a conversation to understand my point of view and theirs. But, the post was not intended to exclude anyone who offered a different opinion or belief from my own for the sake of it being different. It was also not intended to just remove people from my life without giving them a chance to make their case. I am not perfect. I am not all-knowing – nor do I want to be. In fact, I enjoy and value having connections to so many people who see and understand the world differently than I do. I engage in these conversations, and encourage them, because more often than not, they are a way for me/us to learn, to grow, to be more understanding of one another.

So with that, I wish to share a project that I have been polishing and trying to strengthen over the last few years. The 3rd Annual Judy C Kennedy Project Season of Giving Challenge began today. The month-long challenge seeks to encourage participants to perform one random act of kindness for each day in December. We need these acts and we need to share them. So please – visit the Project’s webpage and/or Facebook page to learn more about how you can participate. 

Be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and of course, Happy Kindness-ing!

-the Orange Canadian

*I’m honestly amazed this was acceptable!

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