I didn’t start life a particularly tolerant person. I was brought up in a family which had a very strong superiority complex as a dynamic, and that rubbed off on me. I didn’t feel okay, generally, as a person, in fact I often felt like a little piece of shit, but sometimes I did manage to feel better when I could make myself feel better than others.
That wasn’t to be forever though and various events, plus a self-initiated personal awakening, conspired for me to lose my intolerance and superiority bit by bit. It’s interesting how so many of the people I used to judge, I became at one point or another.
At one point I was a little homophobic and pretty cis-normative (e.g. I helped police gender norms). Not like overt homophobic, just kind of the sort of everyday homophobia you pick up in school because otherwise you’ll get picked on. Maybe call it “homo-anxiety” – a very common trait.
Being cis-normative happened to me for the same reasons, though most of all I learnt it by searching on the internet for answers as to why I wasn’t feeling very self-realised in romance and life in general, and falling for the con which is the Seduction Community.
Now, as you know, I’m bisexual and transitioning my gender from male to female. I judged it, and then became it.
The same thing happened for a lot of beliefs. I grew up feeling I had to be the very smartest to be worthy of love and attention, which made me rather gleeful to judge and condemn that which I thought was dumb. The dumber *they* were, the smarter people might think I was by comparison.
I judged veganism. I remember teasing vegetarian friends and acquaintances and making opinions about how dumb vegans were (I think I’d never met one).
I judged spiritual beliefs. I thought that all spiritual viewpoints were basically the same as Catholicism (which I still think is dumb, but I’m less reactionary about it). You can imagine the story now… a few years later and I was a New Age hippie and a convinced, if a little defensive, vegan.
I also judged “stupid” people in general, in fact I remember as a small kid telling my father about how people with low IQs should be denied positions of power and the right to breed. I was too young to know the words “meritocracy” or “eugenics” but apparently not too young to qualify for the Nazi youth. I will excuse myself partially by adding that my parents would have strongly encouraged these opinions and I was desperate for their approval. Still, it’s shocking to think about.
Thankfully – though I’m not saying “thankfully” because I dislike stupid people anymore, just because being intelligent is a very powerful tool in this world – I’ve never become stupid, though I did have one or two moments in my life when I felt like I’d lost my edge and kept on doing dumb things. Steroid treatment for my old disease gave me a bit of that experience, as well as other things.
Life has served to show me how nothing should be judged, because YOU can become any of those things, or may have already been. I’m not perfect; sometimes I still catch myself having a judgemental thought about others; yet more and more I’m trying to let everyone be as they are.
Once you’ve learnt not to judge things through being them, I think the next step is to let go of judgements of people you haven’t been.
Non-human animals…………… or, if you’re already vegetarian/vegan, then meat-eating humans
Fat people, ugly people, or people who obsess about their appearance
Rich people, poor people
People of other religions or creeds than your own
People who do things you don’t understand, even if it seems crazy or stupid from where you’re standing
Crazy or stupid people, for that matter
Or how about these:
People who are dangerous to society, people who hurt you, and people who don’t come up to your own standards of morality and ethics?
I think that last sentence is the last bastion of resistance for people aspiring to be tolerant. It’s easy to see why homosexual people should be accepted, but what about mass murderers?
I obviously believe in taking the right steps to make sure that dangerous people are neutralised as much as possible. However, I think rejection, condemnation, and judgement are rarely if ever good tools. Even where they somehow do work, I think they should be discarded in preference for better tools due to the harm which they cause to the user’s soul. (To say nothing of the victim).
“Should” these people be hated? Define “should”. Is it productive to hate these people? No. Actually the best way to fight hate and destruction is with love, acceptance and understanding. (Within limits; don’t try to hug a guy with a knife, just run away). Is hate what they deserve? Maybe… but since when has the world gotten better through people getting what they deserve? My dream world gives everything to everyone, not to the select few who are “acceptable”. You don’t give people another chance by hating them, you just shut them off and expect them to be that way forever.
And questions of acceptability and deservingness always beg the question: by whose standards? In the end, of course, it’s always a subjective standard, which is why all attempts to change the world through rejection of what it is at the moment fail and create untold suffering.
When find acceptance in our hearts, we give space to an attempt at understanding. Understanding often inspires acceptance, but I think acceptance is best when it comes before understanding, because only then can we really call it unconditional. When we accept, then, we have a chance to be curious about the other people and take an interest in what we might have otherwise just tried to push out of our reality.
Here are some people I find interesting, even though I don’t share their identification:
Pedophiles (you can be attracted to children without acting on that desire; non-violent pedophiles are an incredibly vulnerable population)
Zoosexuals (you can also be attracted to animals without raping them)
Furries (people who either feel simply identified with wearing animal or “furry” costumes, or take sexual gratification out of that, or both)
People who are into the Steampunk subculture and other subcultures
Adrogynous, genderqueer, asexual, and agendered people
All of these people seem interesting to me. If only because they’re so marginalised by society, I want to find out more about them and how they live life.
There seems to be a certain complicity between us “abnormal” people too. We’ve all been thrown out of polite society or one reason or another, which makes us allies of a sort and usually more accepting of each other’s quirks.
I didn’t start life tolerant. As the world evolves, I think more people will be forced down, or will volutarily walk, the path I went down, and come to tolerance.
Intolerance is unstable. It only takes one sharp blow to destroy it in one person forever. You can hate gays, but what happens if you give birth to one? Sure you might hate him for a while, but then your hate will die and will never come back again.
This process is ongoing. Blacks found their rights, and so did women, for the most part. Now gays are in a key place in their fight for acceptance in society. I wonder when *I’ll* be allowed to have a respectable job…………………………… oh well, I don’t want one anyway.
When people who were previously rejected from society are seen on the street, in the shops, and in the media, intolerant people are forced to play their hand. They either attack, trying to suppress this new show of freedom. Or, they don’t attack, and through their silence show their acceptance of this new facet of aboveground society.
When they attack, it’s strong to start with but eventually has to weaken. If the group fighting for their rights simply holds strong, they have to win. They don’t have to fight back, just keep on showing their faces, keep on insisting that they will live life their own way, so long as it harms none. Finally the intolerant people will tire, and give up, and finally have to accept the new facet of aboveground society. As soon as this group lives their own way, lives showing their faces, they’ve won. And they’ve won forever.
This is why I’m optimistic for the world and very glad to be playing a part in this change. I’m glad to be a transsexual and glad to be blogging about it openly and publicly. I’m glad for those moments where I don’t quite pass as a woman and people realise with exquisite clarity exactly what I’m doing. I’m glad I can go out and show my face and say “yes, this is me”. So that with everything I do I support other people, whatever their quirk or social group, in being themselves. So that, with my words and actions, I say, “I’m okay; you’re okay.”
Everyone, let’s keep this up. We’ve already come further than people could have imagined even 100 years ago. Now’s our time.