Thursday , August 09, 2012 - 3:11 PM
I’m going to talk to you about tolerance, and it involves Oreos and paradoxes. Now, I consider myself to be a pretty reasonable and tolerant guy. But Oreos have a special place in my heart (I think they call it cholesterol), and there’s a certain way they should be consumed.
One does not simply eat an Oreo. You must first dip the cookie in a glass of milk (which may or may not be half full or half empty), and then allow the cookie to absorb the milk for no longer than three seconds. Then you eat the cookie slowly, so as to savor the flavor and to trick yourself into thinking that by eating slower, you are somehow consuming less calories.
That’s how it’s done. However, there are a certain group of people (we shall call them Oreo-heathens) who think it’s perfectly acceptable to eat an Oreo straight out of the package. Crazy, I know, but some people have a different Oreo lifestyle. And despite it being a well-known fact that people who eat Oreos without milk have shorter life-spans (after all, milk is the only nutritional part of my Oreo-eating ritual), they still insist on pursuing their unhealthy lifestyle.
Now, I can accept that people may make incorrect eating choices (such as eating Oreos without milk), but these Oreo-heathens have taken it to a whole new level. They now want social acceptance and even some legal protection (unfortunately, there are extremists on my side of the debate who have started protesting and making signs that say, "God hates people who eat Oreos without milk").
In other words, they want tolerance and acceptance for their lifestyle.
And this is the troubling part for me. Although I can respect other people’s right to choose their actions (even the stupid ones), what these people are asking for is for me to accept and endorse this lifestyle, even though I adamantly believe that it’s wrong and can lead to unhappiness. I also know that my chosen lifestyle is statistically more likely to lead to a happy life, so naturally I want to do everything I can to encourage the Oreo-heathens to choose the right.
On the other side of the coin, the people who want acceptance will settle for nothing less than complete acceptance. That is, they will not compromise. They will not accept that although I may consider their lifestyle as sinful, I can still accept them and love them.
And this is where the paradox steps in. What most people don’t realize is that acceptance and tolerance is about compromise. Both parties need to find a middle ground they can both stand on and build a relationship from that foundation.
But when both parties refuse to find middle ground, the best you can hope for is a mutual agreement to not hate each other’s guts.
However, when one party continues to extend the hand of forgiveness and love, then sooner or later the other side will catch on and join in.
And that’s what tolerance and acceptance is all about. Finding ways to get along with each other, despite our differences.
Joshua Rigley is an online marketing consultant in Layton. Email: email@example.com
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