It’s not what you think.
To read this text I ask you to always keep in mind: don’t judge a book by its cover.
I believe that everything that is innate to us must be used somehow. Nature and millions of years of evolution made us the way we are, and we should use our tools.
I also believe that everything inside of us that we ignore becomes a problem, an obsession, a trauma, a phobia or anything like that.
The Christian Bible says in Luke 8:17, “For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”
I couldn’t agree more. Using an esoteric metaphor I would say that denying the existence of the Devil will not make him disappear.
Darkness is the absence of light.
Ignorance is the lack of knowledge. And consciousness is one of the most powerful tools we have.
Despite your beliefs, we could read it as a psychological effect. Everything that is hidden in us, that we don’t become conscious of it, eventually will find its way to manifest itself.
Yet, with that entire void to be discovered, with all those infinite tools that we have and we don’t even know, the ones we are aware of, mostly, we use poorly.
There are many things that reside in us and we don’t know how to deal with them, not at an individual level and not at a societal level. And also we don’t have a single clue where, exactly, they come from.
Some examples are sexism, homophobia, racism, bigotry, self-righteousness and certainty.
They all come from the very same source: intolerance.
I’m not condemning intolerance; it is in us and is supposed to be used; it is supposed to be understood. I would see intolerance, still, as a modern word that comes from a more primitive instinct as basic as survival mechanisms that we all have, and this particular one is FEAR.
The fear of change is something that generates all those issues mentioned above. Society wants to keep things working, functional and stable. Like they say, you don’t modify the team that is winning.
But the thing is, who defines what is functional and good?
My whole entire life I thought I acknowledged those problems, that I understood them.
I’m a heterosexual middle class Caucasian, the most classic example of “normal”.
We, normal and average, the majority, do not know how painful and horrible is the life of the minority and yet we judge ourselves capable of talking about it and presenting good and sociably acceptable ways to resolve them.
But we don’t.
We are intolerant; we are ignorant to those minorities.
Don’t say you understand the struggle of someone who goes through starvation. I thought I did, until I actually experienced it and it was a whole new game.
Don’t say you understand how hard it is to be told from all your family, friends and community that you will be an unrespectable woman and a terrible mom because you want to have a career and be independent. Women are being stoned to death just because they want to be free.
Don’t say you understand what it’s like to fight with your whole entire family and lose many friends because you are homosexual. People still get death penalties because of this, and we are in the 21st century.
Don’t say you understand how it is like to be from a different race when you can’t even enter in a nice place without people looking at you like you are about to steal something or you don’t belong there. We are all humans.
Don’t say you understand what it’s like to grow up in extreme poverty, in slums, surrounded by criminality and almost no chance to make it, or to buy your family more than enough to barely live through the month working in two different jobs.
Don’t say you understand what it’s like to be raped in your college just because you are dressed in a way that some criminal—all rapists are, by definition, criminals—thinks you deserve it. How can you understand years of therapy, feeling horrible, afraid and violated? You can’t. I can’t.
If you don’t believe me, imagine how it is like to be burned alive because you were judged as a “witch” because you were an unmarried woman in 1690’s.
Ok, got it?
Those are all examples of intolerance, badly used intolerance.
There is a difference, though.
Some intolerance is good, even necessary.
You might be wondering, but how can something so horrible be good? How can someone say that?
If you give a gun to a robber he will commit crimes and even kill someone. If you give the same gun to a police officer he will protect your society.
Humans are meant to evolve, to change, to adapt. The better ones will survive.
That’s why, even with all this resistance, with all this violence, with all this ignorance, little by little the minorities win. They conquer their space and this is absolutely beautiful.
You can fight it, but you will never win.
About 100 years ago, woman had very few individual rights; they couldn’t vote and they were almost completely submissive to their husbands. Nowadays, in Brazil, the very first woman president was reelected for her second mandate.
A little more than 50 years ago African-Americans couldn’t sit in the front row of buses in USA, and now the president is African-American.
Around 20 years ago homosexuality was a subject that was completely taboo and judged as immoral or a disease. Now the homosexual legal marriage is being recognized by many countries all over the world.
If you want to be intolerant, so be it, but be intolerant of things that prevent people from being happy.
Don’t tolerate people thinking they have the right to choose what is best for others.
Don’t tolerate people telling you that you dream too much.
Don’t tolerate unhappiness.
Our intolerance often stems from personal dissatisfaction
It is not a new topic in psychology that the very people that often manifest hate, anger or any negative emotion toward a specific subject probably have unresolved issues dealing with the same subject.
How many guys that are always flashing their “manhood” and spraying homophobia all around most likely have problems with their sexuality and can’t accept it? Intolerance is what makes it so hard for him.
If you are so sure of your beliefs, if they are completely correct, why don’t you test them?
If in any moment while you were reading this text you felt bothered or you adopted a defensive stance or even if something came up in your mind, an old ghost or trauma, just remember: you can hide it from everybody, but not from yourself.
If you really love who you really are, take a step to look into it, to face and to accept it.
Often, things that we hate most in ourselves are the same things that we hate most in others. Every time that someone bothers you a lot, pay attention to it. You might be learning a lot about yourself.
That’s called projection, a psychological concept created by Dr. Carl Jung.
Do you want to live your whole life working in a job that you hate? Do you want to live your whole life in a relationship that doesn’t satisfy you? Do you want to live somebody else’s dream while you waste yours?
If we don’t fit the mold, we assume there is something wrong with us
My personal experience was in my early teenage years when I was around fourteen or fifteen years old.
I thought I could have some sort of sexual dysfunction or disease because, different from all my friends, I didn’t feel the need to go out and hook up with as many girls as I could.
I tried. I thought about how I could do it, but later, when the sex age came, all those girls simply didn’t turn me on.
I was having a hard time to accept that I didn’t like hooking up with all those girls, and my friends kept rubbing it in my face that I should chase after girls more.
Then, with age, I discovered that I love a deep, interesting and rich relationship. I liked quality over quantity. I preferred staying with one girl for years than with a lot of girls for one night.
When I was fourteen, though, it haunted me. I even thought that I could be homosexual over that.
That is sexism at its finest, where the culture enforces that a good male is the one who get as many females as he can, while a female that does the same thing is a “slut”.
From there it escalates, all the way up to sexual harassment in the workplace and the college rape problem.
Honestly, my problem was very socially acceptable, so I didn’t have that much of a problem telling all my friends and my family about it. It was a relief.
What if my or your problem was this one?
Understanding through empathy is the solution
Life is meant to be lived at its fullest. Be yourself, be who you want to be and respect what others want to. Before saying it is bad or wrong, try to understand it.
We are unique; we are in no place to judge anybody or to say what is good or bad for someone else.
What we can do is to love, to help and to understand.
Try to imagine a world with no bad intolerance.
“You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”
– John Lennon
Let’s use intolerance for positive change, not suppression. Be intolerant of intolerance.