We all have secrets; things inside we don't share. This is learned behavior - whether by public ridicule or strict adherence to rules, we know to keep a few things to ourselves.
When I was in high school, teachers ingrained tolerance. Tolerance taught us to allow others to be themselves regardless if we understood or agreed. The problem with tolerance is that choosing to say nothing feels like a betrayal of your own beliefs and values; because tolerance, when left unquestioned, leads to acceptance.
If we accept that others are different, that means I’m different too!
When you are a developing teenager, you don’t want to be different, you want to be just like everyone else and you want to be right! So, tolerance never stuck with me.
As I've grown older, the need to be right has diminished and the desire to be authentic is paramount. But when I question a person's beliefs in order to better understand, I am viewed as argumentative. When I voice my perspective, people who disagree say I’m a bigot. In the journey towards authenticity, tolerance does not seem like the solution. However, it seems like the rest of America drank the Kool-aid.
As I look around our nation, I see things being tolerated and accepted; things that were all but illegal a few years ago. I've wandered the country, east to west and back again, and I see a land that is not being tolerant but inverting its values to make others feel accepted.
And as our society is getting flipped upside down, I find myself in a weird situation:
I have to apologize for being a man.
I like trucks and camping and eating meat and shooting guns and hard music and action movies and big muscles and beer. I like to run wild at the beach and punch the waves. I am a man. But lately I’ve felt like I’ve had to keep that to myself; I’ve felt looked down upon because of my "classic" masculine behaviors.
At a Starbucks, I was the target of laughter and ridicule by a few frail males in skinny jeans. I arrived in a large truck and I could hear them commenting how I "must be overcompensating for something". I figured confronting them - or dowsing them with the hot liquid in my hand - would only make them feel like martyrs; not wanting to justify their ridicule, I said nothing and went along with my day.
Yesterday, a lady informed me that "real men don’t eat meat".
Liz, I’m about to let it all out like you asked me to...
You know what? SHUT THE HELL UP.
I am a man. I like WWE Wrestling and monster truck rallies, Carharts and Cabela's, and I don't give a crap if it makes you uncomfortable. I like to chainsaw trees and ignite fires with diesel fuel. You can think whatever you want about me and I’m going to keep on being me. I’m not going to accept that being a man is a choice now. I reject that masculinity is an inferiority. I will not apologize for being a dude, and I will not tolerate a society that wants me to conform to a weak, meek, sheep of a man.
I’m only a little sorry that came across angrily. I’m not angry, I’m frustrated; frustrated that a society parading under a banner of tolerance is really seeking adherence and acceptance; frustrated that I am made fun of or looked down upon because I will not tolerate (read: condone) certain behaviors and values. There is no judgment in my heart, simply a steadfast loyalty to my values and beliefs.
Tolerance tells us no one is right because tolerance tells us everyone is right.
Tolerance is stupid.
What I believe this world needs is humility.
Humility allows you be in the same place as someone else and not judge them. It allows you to show kindness without feeling like you are betraying your values and beliefs. Humility cares very little about who is right and wrong. Humility simply agrees to co-exist. Humility puts others before yourself.
Despite what you might think about me after my rant, I really do try and walk this world not with tolerance, but humility. Writing this was difficult. It feels like I just said a cuss word in church. This is really something I believe I cannot express and it's exhausting having fewer and fewer places to be myself.
So skinny-jean-wearing, in-touch-with-his-feelings guy, I see you. I recognize I am not you and I may make you feel uncomfortable. I will not apologize for that, but I will not shove who I am down your throat and in return, I’d appreciate if you didn’t try and make me be more like you either.
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