Tuesday, November 15, 2016

International Tolerance Day: A Rip in our Quilt

“Human diversity makes tolerance more than a virtue; it makes it a requirement for survival.”

― René Dubos

Have you watched the movie How to Make an American Quilt? It’s a fairly old film that most might dismiss as a chick flick, but if you look beyond that stereotype and get past your prejudices, you’ll find it an extremely engaging film about a young woman, Finn, who is writing a thesis on her grandmother, grand aunt and the cross-generational relationships with their friends while they work together to make  a wedding quilt for Finn. Each works on a patch representing her life experience that they will sew together to create a collective timeline of their respective pasts, fraught with the frayed edges of regrets and mistakes, to their present lives and ultimately onto Finn’s future.

Today is International Tolerance Day and as another year draws to a close, it’s given me pause to look at life. Mine’s been fraught with snagged ends and frayed edges. Mostly due to my many mistakes, my impatience, intolerance and without doubt occasional selfishness.  

The more I think about it, the more I realize the world it really is like one big  quilt, each of us a single patch,  different, yet each equally valuable, each astoundingly beautiful in spite of the imperfections; through time, the seams have loosened and the patches have become worn and frayed. 

Instead of a collective desire to be repaired, the patches strain against the quilt’s fabric of the quilt, Each patch believing their own image, picture, or story is right. With such disregard for the diversity, the overall whole, the once beautiful quilt begins to fall apart. Each believes their preferred stitch is the only method to put things right. There is no compromise, only discord. And ultimately the patches  not only successfully manage to ruin the once beautiful quilt and but in the process, they destroy themselves.

It sad that we can’t see and appreciate what each of us has to offer, how much good everyone is capable of. Instead we bicker and argue, we value degrading others above uplifting them, we look more at we can take rather than what we can give. We rattle our sabers, we make threats. If we think someone is not like us they’re wrong, we find it so much easier to hurt without remorse, to disparage rather than encourage, to gloat rather than to provide hope. And to discard rather than to hold on fast and hard. 

This election season has been particularly nasty and vindictive with supporters of the opposing sides gnashing their teeth and tearing into each other, some more viciously than others.

In the news today I saw two ladies in public office making derogatory and racist remarks about the ever elegant and graceful FLOTUS. Those who hold public office should set a good example and lead the way forward positively, with dignity and decorum. 

The same could be said of the manager at Chilis in Texas who refused a veteran of a free meal on Veterans Day because he believed another patron who said the veteran was not a real serviceman and then to add insult to injury, the manager snatched back the free meal and asked the veteran to leave. Rip….Rip…Rip.  It’s unravelling threads in the fabric of the quilt that makes bigger tears, irreparable tears.

When will we all sit up and take notice of how ridiculously so many people are behaving? The thing is people only seem to realize it is wrong when they are caught out. And then they delete their posts from facebook or make half-hearted sorry attempts at apologizing. Wake up, people! 

Years ago I interviewed Yossi Ghinsberg, a man who was lost in the Amazon and what he said was quite telling. He said that man was less civilized that the wild animals he encountered because at least they obeyed the law of nature; man does not.

So the year is drawing to a close on a negative note; it’s my wish that we all take stock and realize that we’re not perfect and but we are more alike than we think and that if we accept ourselves, in the little things  perhaps we can slowly then perhaps begin to mend the tears in the quilt we call our world.  We might like to start by reading this book. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

We’re all human. We’re not perfect. We have to put our egos aside and accept that about one another.

“Somewhere beyond wrong and right, there is a garden. I will meet you there” -Rumi


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