Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

In interest of tolerance, it is time to cry surrender

Sometimes maybe we just know too much. With instant information comes brain overload. We know what's going on in Syria, Egypt, China and Ballyclare almost as soon as it happens. But can we do anything about it? Probably not. Even if you're in one of those places, you probably can't stop the madness.

So knowing about it and not being able to effect any change, makes us feel more powerless than we did when we didn't know about anything much beyond our own small circle of acquaintance - like when you're on holiday and you don't bother watching the news.

How long will the demos go on? This time next week most people will be hassled enough with organising food and presents and family members who don't get on, never mind trying to defend their nationality which isn't under threat anyway. I'd love to know where the daily Jack hoisters get their energy and determination. One shower of rain and I'd be back home. Some showers won't be put off by a few showers, evidently.

Is it terribly middle class just to want to forget about it all for a while? Or rather, to put it into perspective? We all only have enough mental and emotional energy to care about a certain number of things. I personally don't care to give any energy to worrying about national identity, mostly because I don't see my quality of life as affected by a flag. That's because I live in a democracy and I am grateful for all the freedoms we have to express ourselves here. I'm not being tortured or oppressed. Well, not by politics. By mass-advertising and gross consumerism yes, but not by politics.

So I don't really empathise with those who find nationalism such an important part of their lives. But I do appreciate that I must respect that what's important to some people really is important to them. There's no point preaching inclusion and tolerance if it doesn't include and tolerate those whose views are opposite of mine, is there?

So I conclude that if I want to make a difference and add to the greater good rather than the greater cynicism, I need to behave in a way that demonstrates understanding. Not agreement, but understanding. And I have to accept that I am part of this society and that how this society works is down to me, not to "them".

Oh god, it's hard work being a responsible adult sometimes, isn't it? Easier to poke fun and close the door on the things you don't agree with. Harder to get involved and offer support and solutions.

It's fact, people will never all like or want the same things. We won't all be intellectuals with a firm control of our urges all the time. We are all survivalists and we each try to control life in our own ways, in order to survive.

I'd like a society where people weren't threatened by someone having a different taste/ opinion/outlook than them. And if I want others to share my outlook then it's probably down to me to make that outlook appealing. Simply shoving it down their throats isn't going to work.

So I hoist a flag of tolerance today. Protest, don't protest. Feel aggrieved, don't feel aggrieved. Mock, don't mock. All these are available. I'm grateful for the tolerance that allows us to be so diverse. I Surrender!

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