I have been thinking a lot about tolerance lately, probably precipitated by the Referendum for Independence. As I have written before, Scotland is divided at the moment. The division is not just between those who would like an independent Scotland and those who don't. Within these groups the reasons chosen for or against independence are manifold and whatever your reasons are, they will be close to your heart, reflecting different upbringings, political and personal preferences and personality. That's ok, isn't it?
What amazes me is how little tolerance there is for each others opinions, and how people pussy foot around each other just in case they don't see eye to eye, avoiding or even fearing a confrontation. I don't know if this is just how I experience things? Maybe I am a bit of an anxious wuss. I go for a jog most mornings and every morning I pass by scraped-off campaign stickers, usually of the "no thanks" variety but by no means only those. I suppose it depends on your neighbourhood thug's personal opinion because I doubt it is more than one or two individuals in each neighbourhood that make it their business to remove or vandalise campaign material. It makes me feel uncomfortable. The other day on the playground, a conversation about the referendum started and it was only once it became clear that there was no sticker removing "I am right and you are wrong" shouting overzealous campaigner present, that the conversation relaxed and it was actually interesting to hear out each others opinions. For there are interesting and nuanced opinions out there.
This got me thinking. How do you practice tolerance and how do you best teach your children to be tolerant individuals? I don't mean that superficial kind of paper tolerance that is all permeating but truly felt tolerance. How can I achieve this? Like most, I am opinionated, I have preconceptions, I am sometimes prejudiced and full of unwarranted anxieties about people and stuff, and I am often biased too. Sometimes on the inside, I am profoundly intolerant. Surely, I am doomed to fail my children? Awareness of my shortcomings is probably good. Maybe it is best to accept these and put a conscious effort towards being a truly tolerant person.
No wonder that I sometimes don't sleep! Anyway, I practice tolerance on a daily basis on a smallish scale and maybe this is the way to teach children? Let me give you some examples. I like things to be done my way. Personally, I think my way to fold the washing is unsurpassed and economical in terms of space requirements. But I do my best to ignore the urge to "do it better" if one of my children or Richard does the job differently. The same goes for the dishwasher. Surely there is only one right way (my way) to load it? I remember my mum having hissy fits if it wasn't stacked "the right way"-, or -heaven forbid, the cutlery was mixed up.... Well, I have learned to accept that there are more than one way to load it efficiently and in a space saving manner, even if I would do it differently.
And so it goes, all the way to issues that really matter. I could talk now about all sorts of things, for example on not passing judgment on James' and Alistair's birth parents, or religion. But lets keep it simple for now. Sam recently told me off for being judgmental about his friends. Quite frankly, some of his friends are odd. At least on my oddnessometer. Although I have never been guilty of saying that I don't want him to be friends with certain boys or girls, I have on occasion caught myself suggesting more appropriate company. More appropriate of course as judged by me. Subtly I thought. But apparently not so after all. Sam is of course right, it is not my place to judge his friends. They may be not my choice, but they are his loyal best friends and have been for many years.
I have been thinking about this a lot and I hope that experiences like that help me to become a more tolerant person. At the very least, as a starting point, I am learning to keep quiet when it is not my place to pass judgement.
How about you? Do you face similar dilemmas? And how do you solve them?
That of my chest, I am now going to spend a frantic 30 minutes tidying the mess before going to school. I have discovered that setting a timer to 30 minutes and aiming to do as much as I can in that time is a great way to get things done. Nothing better than a bit of well directed competitiveness.
Have a lovely day! Cx