Years ago, I used to be intolerant of certain types of people. I always thought that whatever was strange or different should be frowned upon because it upset the delicate balance of tradition. For most times, it was just gut feelings, or so I thought. But actually it was tradition and habit of unreal ideas that kept me segregated from others. I found out over the years of observing the world around me, that certain people just have no tolerance at all and most don’t accept realities that we see on a daily basis. Sometimes, this intolerance spreads like a virus, infecting everyone with its long-lasting first impressions.
For example, the first time I saw the Beatles was when they played live on the Ed Sullivan Show. I could not tolerate their long hair because it inspired young girls to scream at them, or so I thought at that time. I turned to my mother, who seemed a little wary of the way the show was going and was relieved to hear me tell her that I was never going to grow my hair long, ever. Seven years later, you couldn’t tear the bandana off my long hair, because it was different and seemed to irritate just the right people – your parents.
Another time, much earlier, as a child in elementary school during the daily show-and-tell session, a breathless young girl proudly announced that the President of the United States was assassinated. Wow we wondered, what’s assassination? Where is the United States? What’s a president? Our first exposure to extreme intolerance in a classroom setting remained in this mind for a long time. It seemed to us that no one really asked “whodunit” because they already caught the bad guy. Over the years, intolerance was all around us as a people until some form of recognition came to light in the JBNQA, but all that constant pressure of intolerance.
For many years, we had language intolerance. French versus English was the most obvious one, as they had fought over these lands in attempts to empire build off the backs of the trappers. Then the general fighting over land claims made intolerance a fine legal art carried out in courtrooms, defining and deciding the level of discrimination, a “who’s who” in racial terms. Today, even though the black man, the red man, the yellow man and the white man all get along fine legally and even friendly like, another intolerance is fighting for our attention. Yes, it is the spiritual one, the final grounds left for intolerance.
Looking at extreme religious intolerance, right now a “holy” war is being fought, justified by God himself. This is not a battle for souls, it is a battle of intolerance in extremis, where even the most private and spiritual aspect of one’s person is now being fought over in the name of peace and love. This is a far cry from the days when long hair was considered evil.
Today, in our own lands, intolerance is still practiced in the background, working its way to surface once in a while in a dramatic way, showing us that it is still alive and well within ourselves. Ahh, if I only had my long hair back just to irritate people again…