Tolerance

My jaw dropped this morning when the media released the story about how brutally and inhumanely a journalist’s life was ended.  My first thought went to his parents; those people nursed him and fed him and tucked him in at night and read him stories and taught him how to sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and helped him with his math. They must be in incomprehensible pain. They have emotionally and physically lost a part of themselves in a brutal and horrifying manner. What’s worse (?) the vicious murder of their child, their son, is repeatedly displayed via social media for anyone who wants to watch.  Would you want that?!

Then I thought about a wife or a child(ren) he may have left behind.  This wife was robbed of being able to share her life and to grow old with her beloved. Her child(ren) will not get to hear their father’s voice, feels his hugs or learn from his wisdom any longer.

Then I thought about him, the victim, and the sadness and loneliness he may have experienced being away from those he loves while on assignment…a JOB for pity sake. I thought about the fear he must have had and the injustices he must have endured because he was an American pawn. Then I thought about the humans who committed these egregious acts.

While I understand there are two sides to every story, I just don’t understand why the world seems to be in such a snit. And why do we, the public, need/want to hear about this stuff? For me, personally, it’s overwhelming. To recap, we have children being raped and killed. We have pedophiles and drug dealers in our neighborhoods, sometimes in our own homes. We have parents willfully killing their infants. We have teenagers taking aim on schools. We have sects shooting planes out of the sky and we have militants using women and children as human shields.  It’s in our newspapers, on our radios, televisions and social media. It’s talked about in coffee shops, at dinner tables and for those like me, it reverberates inside my head.

Is it any wonder many believed the world would end in 2012?!

With great sadness (and more than a little disgust for my fellow human beings), I looked at my 2 ½ year old daughter and said, “{Expletive} I brought you into this hell hole. I chose to have you even though THIS is what’s going on in the world. And you chose to come. How are you supposed to help with this? What’s your part? How can you stop all this crap?” She looked at me and said, “Mommy not be sad. Mommy be happy!” and then she burst into a rousing rendition of “Bingo was his name O!”

But somewhere inside my head, I ‘heard’ the much older and wiser version of her say, “Teach tolerance.”

So what is tolerance?  Webster’s dictionary describes it as (among other things): “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.”   Yes, yes! I like that. My mom used to say, “To each his own.”  I, for the most part, did grow up understanding and using tolerance so maybe that’s why this stuff is so difficult for me to understand.

My daughter has a favorite Sesame Street book entitled, “We’re Different, We’re the Same.” I read it to her daily and it often reaches the ad nauseam point for me but she loves it. It talks about how our bodies are different but they are the same.  They “stretch and bend and work and play. They all need food and rest each day. They dance and wiggle and ride a bike. They might look different, but they’re alike.”  It talks about how our skin is different but our skin is the same. It talks about our feelings are different but our feelings are the same, “Lonely, worried, scared, excited, happy, loving, glad, delighted.”

You get it, right? We ARE all the same. We might look different, but we’re the same. We are all ONE. All of our blood is red. We all have a heart and lungs and skin. We all have emotions. We all have beliefs. We all have ‘baggage.’ We were all born and we will all die.

It’s now the end of the day and I’m still agitated. I’m left wondering, in a shell-shocked sort of way, what’s it going to take to stop all this killing and other injustices?  Is teaching tolerance the answer? Maybe. Teaching hate sure isn’t working.

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