• On Tolerance

    Date: 2011.06.20 | Category: reflection | Tags:

    I know, and you know, that I haven’t posted in a while.  Insert an excuse and apology here.  Ok, let’s move on, because I have stuff I want to write about.

    Tolerance, sympathy, and understanding are important parts of my life.  I find myself angered often by intolerance and refusal to understand other people who are different from us.

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    I’ve always considered myself sensitive to people who are a different race or nationality than me; have a different sexual lifestyle than me; are a different social class than me.  While I certainly am not tolerant of all behavior (lying, stealing, hypocrisy, to name a few), I think it’s important to try to understand – whether I condone the behavior or not - even the least tolerable people.  One of my life lessons that I’ve learned is how important it is to be sensitive to people who are different than me and exercise empathy. (And while I’m at it, I’d like to admit that I’m not perfect at it, but I value it highly and always strive for it.)  I think it’s perfectly fine to disagree with a behavior.  For example, I do not have tolerance for racism.  However, I don’t hate people that say or do racist things.  See the difference?

    Unfortunately, not everyone is the same as me.  I’ve heard way too much racism and  obese-ism/overweight discrimination/“fat hate”/body bigotry/size-ism/whatever you want to call it–than is acceptable.

    I think it is morally wrong to judge someone based on the person’s skin color.  Many times, I hear racism that comes in the form of comments that draw parallels between a person’s race and that person’s traits/characteristics.  Sometimes it’s not as outright – sometimes it’s almost like a race-“phobia” – or other-phobia (and don’t even get me started on calling it a phobia – it’s hate.  I don’t empathize with racism, and calling it a “phobia” is too nice).  Racism is very much alive today.  I have heard the question: Is racism still a problem today? My answer is HELL YES, ARE YOU LIVING UNDER A ROCK?

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    Unfortunately, while many of us that agree that racism as wrong, many of us do not think that judging a person’s character based on that person’s weight is wrong.  “Body bigots” ascribe personality characteristics based on whether that person is overweight.  Sometimes it’s “lazy,” “dumb,” or sometimes it’s less creative and just “gross.”

    Assuming personal characteristics based on appearance is an improper, illogical judgment.  It’s not the same as racism, but, like my intolerance for racism, I don’t think judging a person based on what they look like is ok.  I could be nice and say it’s just superficial but I believe it’s far worse – it’s bigoted and bully-like. And again, sometimes the way it surfaces is not as forthright as saying fat person = lazy; sometimes it’s fat-phobia – or other-phobia.  And it’s that judgment about a person, based on how they look, that I believe is bigoted.

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    My parents taught me that beauty from the inside is more important than what you see on the outside – and there is nothing beautiful about the innards of size-ism.

    Naturally, since I’m emphasizing the importance of understanding people, I think it is contingent upon us to understand size-ists.  It doesn’t take a psychoanalyst to reach plausible theories: insecurity, fear, projection.  But it’s immoral to derive (consciously or not) pleasure out of pointing out other people’s imperfections.

    The truth is that you never know what a person deals with behind closed doors (Exhibit A: myself).  Save your judgment for people and instead place it on the FDA, Frito-Lay, fast-food chains, and the like.  Compassion and understanding is the best part of the human race, and judging others based on appearance is something we were supposed to learn not to do in Kindergarten.