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tolerance and benefit of doubtI was surprised and taken back by the passion in voice as she said,

“I’m furious about the detached garages behind the new homes being built along the entrance to our subdivision. They cheapen the neighborhood.”

I saw the same surprise in her face when I responded,

“The houses and their garages are lovely. They make me smile as I drive by because they remind me of a New England fishing village. To me, the look is very beachy-area appropriate.”

“You don’t find  them tacky? Not even the slightest bit?”

“No, not at all. The houses and garages are all new construction. Everything’s beautifully designed. The garages aren’t really all that visible as you drive by.”

We were seated beside one another at a community zoning meeting. We talking, looking for areas of commonality to while away the time before the meeting started.

Our exchange was the third topic in a row that pointed to two people who lived at opposite ends of what we paid attention to, were interested in, and valued.

For a moment we quietly eyed one another.

It was one of those moments in which the conversation could go one of two ways.

We could dismiss the other as being wrong and not worthy of further interaction. Maybe even be rude.

Or, we could decide to respect the diversity of our differing interests and learn from one another.

In that intense moment of eye contact, intolerance was winning. Two pairs of eyebrows were arched, two sets of brows were furrowed, two sets of lips were pursed, and no words were spoken. 

My brain was at war with itself. One side was screaming, these are half a million dollar and up homes! There’s nothing cheap about the neighborhood. Are you that passionate about the dismal education situation in this state? What about domestic violence?

My better instincts whispered, practice what you preach. Respect her right to be different. Don’t let binary opposition win. 

Maybe her internal voices had been having the same discussion.

“Maybe we just need to agree to disagree?”

“Let’s do that.”

In one moment, for whatever our individual reasons, we moved past our differences and resumed exchanging information. We’d found a space were we could be tolerant and have respect for one another.

In that space, there’s room and respect for differences.

That’s kinda all we need to get along, isn’t it?



Inspiring quotes about the power of tolerance

Tolerance is not the absence of prejudice but rather emphasizes forbearance and not begrudging other people their own ways. ~Maykel Verkuyten


The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity. ~Benjamin Franklin


Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways. ~Dalai Lama XIV



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