I am usually not at a loss for words. Those who know me would likely attest to this statement. When I sat down to write this article I found that I was having difficulty articulating what I wanted to offer this space. There is so much that can be said–the topic is that big and that important. So I guess I’ll jump right in and hope to make myself reasonably clear.
If I were to ask you to think about at least one situation or concern that you identify as unfair but seem to be powerless to correct what would that thing be? I’m sure that the list would be lengthy but not as long as you might think. One situation that comes to mind for me would be injustice. It seems to be everywhere. He is doing this; they are doing that; how come they get to do ? but others can’t and on it goes.
When we look around, if we are truly honest, the signs of decay, anger, grief, hatred and injustice are there to see. The question we struggle with is what role do ‘I’ play in this process? How do ‘I’ contribute to this continuing on? Like it or not we all do contribute to it in some way. The good news is we can halt this progression any time we please if we have the will to do so. To do so, however, means that we have to identify what that role looks and sounds like. You can’t change what you don’t know you need to change.
When I acknowledge these two characteristics people often look at me as if to say,”well that can’t be me. That’s not who I am or what I do.” Most don’t see themselves as anything other than good folks with strong beliefs. I’m not saying they aren’t good people. I believe that most people are inherently good. I also believe that you are not likely to come across many people who would openly admit to being a bigot, a racist or someone who is intolerant yet we all know that that exists in our world.
For a young man to lose the trusted source (his father) of these 2 messages or to lose the opportunity to witness how to live in harmony with others through the words and actions of another man is nearly the same as being blind folded and then lead to an open space and told to find his own way with no idea of where he is and no guide to travel with. He stumbles and runs into things. He often travels in the wrong direction with little meaningful or consistent input from those around him.
So it is when a young man, for whatever reason(s), is denied the opportunity to witness his father demonstrate how to live with tolerance and acceptance of, not only himself, but those others around him. We will find peace and happiness when we are able to be more tolerant and accepting of others. A father needs to understand how important his knowledge and experience really are when helping his son to be a balanced, loving and caring human being.
So what are the messages that our young men need to be hearing, seeing and living? One-that intolerance of others is not OK. We may not like him/her or them for what they stand for, how they dress, the colour of their skin, their customs, their religion, their politics or their personal orientation. But we need to respect their right to feel and think the way they do if we want him/her or them to offer us the same treatment. That said it is not OK for anyone to hurt, minimize or threaten our lives, the lives of our loved ones or limit anyone in anyway. Regardless who the person(s) is (are) they need to be treated with the same dignity and equality under the law just as any other person would be treated.
Tolerance does not equate to weakness but rather to the gift of freedom. We may not always agree on how that looks but we can’t force anyone else to live as we would have them live just to suit our own personal agendas.
Acceptance is similar but not the same. I believe that we find it difficult to accept others for who they are because of our fear of losing power and control. Acceptance is about us, as individuals, saying and demonstrating by our actions that we will accept and respect each other as human beings.
By recognizing, demonstrating and living these principles of tolerance and acceptance and by teaching, mentoring and not waiting for ‘the other guy’ to begin doing this first our sons will benefit by enjoying more peace and happiness with less fear, hate and anger in their lives. Without this happening our sons and their sons are destined to live lives featuring unfulfilled promises and dreams, misery and grief. Which do you prefer they experience?
That’s the way I see it anyway, Jim
If you have any comments about this article please pass it along to the address below. IF you agree with the article please pass it on to others and ask them to do the same.
NEXT WEEK LOOK FOR ‘THE ONE WORD THAT’S NOT SAID AS OFTEN AS IT NEEDS TO BE’