I Respectfully Disagree

My dog was not feeling very tolerant toward that squirrel. Photo credit: Doree Weller

My dog was not feeling very tolerant toward that squirrel.
Photo credit: Doree Weller

I write a lot about tolerance and acceptance, and that I feel that they’re “good” qualities.  I’m sure most people agree with me.  However, people with liberal mindsets often put down people with more conservative mindsets for not “accepting” what they feel is okay.  And that’s where things get thorny.

For the record, I’m pro-human rights, which in my mind, means I support gay marriage (or marriage equality) and the right for LGBTQ people to just be treated as people.

However, not everyone agrees that being gay, for example, is “okay.”  A lot of people are even more opposed to gay marriage, and the Supreme Court ruling isn’t changing their minds.  That’s because people often object to gay marriage on religious or moral grounds.

About this time in the discussion, someone usually says that Jesus preached tolerance for all, and that it’s not tolerant to be anti-gay or anti-gay marriage.

I respectfully disagree.

Tolerance doesn’t mean that you like something.  It doesn’t mean that it’s okay with you.  It means that you tolerate it.

According to dictionary.com, tolerance means:

noun
1.a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

Nothing in there says that you have to condone an attitude, but I would like to point out that in order to be “fair” and “objective,” you have to understand.

One of the arguments people sometimes use against gay marriage is that “it’s not good for children,” and this is often based on anecdotal evidence of a few people raised in gay marriages who feel it negatively impacted them.  I can find thousands of people raised in heterosexual marriages or by single parents who feel that their parents’ relationship damaged them.  That doesn’t make heterosexual relationships to blame.

On the other hand, many people put down religious people for their intolerant attitudes by pointing to the extremists who don’t accurately portray religion.  The first group to pop to mind is the Westboro Baptist Church who protest funerals.  While they identify themselves as Christians, even other Christians believe them to be a “hate group.”  Just because someone has an opinion, and they’re Christian, doesn’t mean that all Christians believe the same way.

Let’s start treating one another as individuals, asking questions, and treating one another with respect.  At the core, we all want the same thing: to live our lives the best way we know how.  For Christians, that means figuring out how best to follow Jesus’s teachings.  For the LBGTQ community, that means being treated as equals.  For some people, those two ideas mesh well, but others can’t reconcile them.

I’m going to say something some might disagree with, and it’s that it’s okay if people disagree.  Respectfully disagreeing means that we listen to the other side and respond with respect.  The key here is that you honestly listen, and when you respond, you do so without name-calling, put-downs, or a condescending attitude.  These two issues make people quite passionate, and it can be difficult to be respectful in a discussion, but that’s tolerance.  Two people can have a disagreement, come no closer to agreeing by the end of it, and still listen to one another and respect one another.

My tolerance only ends when someone advocates or threatens harm to self or others.  That’s my line.  I love listening to people who disagree with me because I might learn something.  I love talking to people who disagree with me because I might teach something.  But if someone starts speaking in a disrespectful manner, my ears generally shut off, and I don’t hear anything but the disrespectful parts of the speech.

What are your thoughts on tolerance?

Feel Good Friday

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

A guy tries to give money to a homeless man, and the man takes it, but then asks if the guy will just talk to him for a little while. The video made me tear up.  It’s true that people just want to connect with one another, and that’s more important than anything.  Take 3 minutes and watch the video.  And remember, whatever else you think of homeless people, they’re still just people at the core of it.

 A woman overhears a hurtful conversation between a mother and daughter about a plus sized tank top.  The woman buys the item in question, and her selfie goes viral.

Grey Muzzle Rescue is a rescue run by one man, set up to take in senior dogs who otherwise might not find a home. There’s an article, and a 13 minute video. Well worth watching to brighten your day.

A man overcomes homelessness by knitting bears.

A child confesses that he worries that people won’t like him because he’s gay, and he gets many responses from strangers reassuring him.  It’s nice to see people come together in acceptance and kindness.

6 Ways to Be Happier

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

On Wellness Wednesdays, I post about a wellness topic.

Most of feeling happier is to stop caring what others think.  No, seriously.  It’s not rocket math.  Most of the things we worry about has to do with how others view us.  Okay?  Got it?  So I can end this blog post here, right?

Oh, if only it were so easy!

The fact is that people aren’t like light switches.  We can’t just turn on and off the caring thing.  And caring about what others think is a good thing, sometimes.  But there’s a difference between caring about others and caring what they think.

I care about other people.  I try to be a good person and cause no harm to others.  But if they don’t like me for some reason (my weight, the way I dress, the fact that I laugh and talk too loud, my really bad jokes), I don’t care.  I don’t care what they think.  My friends think I’m wonderful.  And honestly, there will always be people who don’t like me.

So how can you learn to be happier?

1.  Stop comparing yourself to others.  This one is really important. You’re you, and you’re beautiful and perfect in your uniqueness and flaws.  Maybe your best friend is a great cook or a great decorator.  Maybe your dad can fix anything in a MacGyver-esque way.  Maybe your neighbor’s dogs don’t bark or their kids always look clean.  Maybe everyone else is thinner-has a better car- better clothes- makes stuff that looks like it does on Pinterest.  Whatever.  Who cares?  We all have things about ourselves that we’d like to change, and things that we could be doing better.  You’re you, so only compare yourself to you.

2.  Continually strive for improvement.  “But wait… you just said that I’m great the way I am!”  Yes, you are.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve.  Now, improvement does not mean perfection.  I’m going to say it again: improvement does not mean perfection.  If you’re not naturally organized, deciding that this is the year everything is going to be and stay in perfect order probably isn’t realistic.  Don’t set yourself up for failure.  If you want to get organized, start with one thing, like the kitchen pantry or the living room.  Try to be a little better than you were yesterday.

3.  Practice acceptance and non-judgement.  One of the hardest things to learn in life is to stop judging yourself and others.  Unless you’re perfect, you don’t have the right to judge others.  And if you don’t expect others to be perfect, don’t expect it from yourself.  You can dislike a behavior without judging the person.  Please believe me that unless you have the whole story, your judgement is likely a mistake.  There are certain behaviors that are wrong, but at the time, it may have seemed like the best choice.  Accept others for who they are, mistakes and all.  This acceptance and non-judgement doesn’t mean that you allow toxic people in your life; it just means that you don’t judge them for who they are and where they are in life.  Same goes for you.  We all make mistakes, even when we know better.

4.  Try to forgive.  This may be one of the hardest things that anyone does.  Forgiving someone does not mean that what they did was okay.  The other person doesn’t even have to be part of your decision to forgive.  All forgiveness means is that you’re choosing to let go of what hurt you.  Sometimes you can forgive once, and sometimes you’ll have to forgive over and over.  You’ll let go of the pain and it will stay away for a little while, then come back.  It’s okay; you’re only human, and you’re doing the best you can.  But the act of trying to forgive is freeing, and you’re worth it.

5.  Look for the good in yourself and others.  You see what you look for.  If you’re looking for all the bad things people do, that’s what you’ll see.  Shift your focus.  It’s like that optical illusion, the old lady and the young woman. Maybe you look at the illusion and immediately see the old woman.  And if no one told you it was an optical illusion, if no one told you to look for the young woman, that’s all you’d see.  But once you look for the young lady, you find her.  Maybe you have to look for awhile.  Maybe someone tells you where to look.  But eventually, you see it.  She was always there, whether you saw her or not.  Same with the good in yourself and others; it’s there, even when it’s hard to find.

6.  Practice gratitude.  Instead of focusing on what you want or what you don’t have, focus on the things you do have that you’re grateful for.  Take time out every day and find something to be grateful for.  Write them down or share them.  When we write things down or speak them out loud, we give them power.  You’d say your complaints out loud, wouldn’t you?  Try the same thing with your gratitudes.

We’re all just works in progress, and being human means being in a perpetual state of growth and learning.  Try one of these things and work on it.  When you notice a difference, try another.  Don’t try to do it all at once, or you’ll end up feeling bad about it.  We all have days when we can’t do any of these things, when we should stay in bed with the covers pulled up.  Just be the best you that you can be today.