There’s so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, That it behooves the most of us to get along with the rest of us. – Anon
I’d been a Lemurian student for about a year when I began studying the Lemurian virtues. The insightful virtue Tolerance was one of them that I breezed through, pretty sure that was someone else’s problem. Looking back now, I realize this opinion was a red flag indicating a need to look at things more carefully. But I was clueless then.
But I was learning a lot about myself and could recognize some areas I needed to work on and change. When I came to the part of the lesson that talks about the need to look back on our thoughts and actions to discover the learning they hold for us, I started thinking about a guy I used to work with. He was always joking around and making personal comments I felt were inappropriate. I considered him a loudmouth, a shallow person I didn’t want to know. And that’s how I treated him.
Eventually, our company assigned him to an overseas position and a little bit later, I went there on a business trip. He was the one assigned to sponsor me. “Oh Lord,” I mourned, “What a trip this will be!”
Was I ever wrong! He couldn’t have been more solicitous of my needs. He welcomed me into his home where I observed his heartwarming interactions with his wife and children. He was a gentle and loving man. My view of his public persona had led me to completely miss what a fine person he was.
I hadn’t thought much about the fact that a lot of us act differently in public than we do at home. And it may have been that some other facet of his life had changed him; I don’t really know. But if I’d used the insightful virtue, Tolerance, and observed this coworker more carefully, I might not have been so surprised at the apparent change.
Thinking back over this experience, I could see how snap judgments about people – based on my intolerance of ways different from my own – often caused me to miss out on good relationships. Too often, I exhaust myself stewing over some real or imagined wrong. Or worse, I might lose out on the best of all human experiences – gaining a friend.
Tolerance is a tough virtue to build into ourselves, especially when others might not seem to consider it worth a second thought. But for those of us who aspire to become finer, better, and nobler people, it’s essential. What we learn by taking time to consider others’ opinions can open up a whole new and better world for us. So how do we acquire it? One of the Fellowship teachers suggested an interesting way to start, saying,
Tolerance is pretending that opinions which disagree with yours are not nonsense.
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