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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Intolerance


I think we can all safely admit that there are things people do that drive us nuts. I, for instance, can't stand it when people drive below the speed limit in the left-hand lane. I can't tolerate it.

We've all got things like that. But hopefully, as a whole, we are more tolerant of those around us. Of the differences of people, in their families, their cultures, their behavior, and their attitudes.

Unfortunantly I've seen example lately of intolerant behavior. What it really boiled down to was people who were self-righteous in their own assertions/ideas, and were therefore intolerant to those who they considered 'wrong' or even 'inferior.' Here are two examples.

1) The Fat Lady I was in the grocery store one day, waiting in the check out line. The woman in front of me was larger and kept fumbling with her coupons. And then she fumbled with her checkbook. The woman between the two of us said, "You should have written your check while you waited."

She didn't say it nicely. It was a snide comment, and it didn't make the woman move any faster. It's possible she would have acted so haughtily to anyone, but what crossed my mind was that she judged this woman as inferior because she was overweight, had coupons, and wrote checks. She should have just been quiet and waited.

2) The Undisciplined Children In church the other day, a single lady sat in front of a mom with two kids. Most of the moms with children and no spouse sitting by them spend the entire service attending their children; I know I do. When they passed the sacrament, this mom was whispering to her children. I don't know what she was saying. It could have been to be quiet, a story about Jesus, or the latest football scores. At least she was quiet, which was more than I could say for the kids screaming in the row behind me. I saw the woman in front turn around and say, loud enough for me to hear, "Would you please be quiet during the sacrament?"

Again, it was the attitude of delivery that struck me. Obviously this woman wanted silence so she could feel the Lord's Spirit, and felt that this woman was disturbing the meeting. She had such an unhappy scowl upon her face that I doubt she would have been able to feel anything. She then proceeded to stick her fingers in her ears for the rest of the service. I was astounded. She apparently thought she was more spiritual and Christ-like than the mom behind her, who I bet would have loved some help keeping her little ones occupied!

3)The Unwed Mother And finally, this is one that I see quite a lot, subtly directed at me. Why? Because I'm pregnant, look seventeen, and am wearing no wedding ring. I have one, a gorgeous one, and every day I rub my finger and wish I had it on. But my fingers are swollen and have been for months. So no ring until baby comes out.

The natural assumption from people is that I'm not married and pregnant. I especially get weird looks if my other two children are with me. There are little hints of disdain from people, whether it's not meeting my eyes in a conversation, or glancing between my tummy and my ring-finger. It's embarrassing and I want to defend myself every time. There are people I don't get this reaction from. These are the people who smile warmly at me in the store and ask me when the baby is due, people who hold doors for me and tell me I have beautiful children. When I speak to these people, I find many of them are single moms. They include me in their fellowship because they think I am like them. We share something.

It is sad to me how excluding we can be of people who don't seem to fit in our social circle. The chances of seeing a person a second time are rare; for the two minutes they cross paths with us in this lifetime, can't we be kind? Can't we be accepting? I ask myself this question as well and hope that I also can be more tolerant of those around me.



7975 / 60000 words. 13% done!

13 comments:

David J. West said...

Tamara-let's be honest, you look like you're creeping up on nineteen.

banananutmeg said...

Prepare to be "shushed" a lot in our ward. It's getting better than it used to be....I think that's mostly because there are more young families here, than there used to be.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

What, David, are you saying I look old???

@Meg--Emily mentioned that to me a few weeks ago, that someone gave her a dirty look when her kids were crying. I couldn't believe it! I guess it's been hard for the retired folks? It's one of the loudest wards I've ever been in, but I love it! My husband and I felt right at home our very first Sunday!

Jemi Fraser said...

Excellent post! Kindness doesn't cost a thing. I don't understand cranky people - where is the joy in their lives. Real joy does NOT come from being nasty or negative.

Elisa said...

amen. we used a fake ring from wal-mart for my engagement ring til the real one was ready. it is not my size. Much too big. So when i was pregnant and swollen I wore that... specifically because I got tired of the exchanged looks or whispers that I caught on many an occasion.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

exactly, Jemi! By being negative, they miss out!

Elisa, I wish I had a ring to put on too! Maybe I'll search for a big ole ring in my drawer...I might have something!

Solvang Sherrie said...

What a great post! I had the same problem when I was pregnant. My ring didn't fit and I got the same snide looks. It really amazed me in this day an age to feel that prejudice for something that wasn't even true! It's sad that we can be so judgmental of each other.

Amber said...

Thanks for sharing, Tamara. Great thoughts and a very good reminder. We could all do a little bit better.

*LLUVIA* said...

Oh my gosh!!! So true!!! I loved this post!!

T.J. said...

So, I was going to respond to this post, but I think I'll just write my own blog post about "how old are you?" or something like that.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Seriously, TJ? You're going to write a blog post to find out my age? LOL. You could just ask, you know. :)

Taffy said...

Great reminders, thank you!
Hubby and I couldn't get prego for the first seven years of our marriage. It was amazing what people felt they could say to me! One time an aunt asked my mom why we didn't have any kids and she said, "I don't know! I don't sleep with them!" That aunt and family never asked again.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

That is so sad, Taffy. It's like it doesn't occur to people that not only might that be a sore point for you, but it's none of their business!

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