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Friday, October 22, 2010

No Tolerance for Intolerance: Differences Enrich Our Lives

My mother always told me I was special....still does actually. I think I am special. We're all special. I know it sounds like a spot on Sesame Street or Barney, but it's true. Every person I meet contributes to the experience of my life. Whether I meet you for a minute or I know you for years, I can learn from you. Even that guy on the expressway today... the one picking his nose. He taught me to be conscious of how I appear in public because you never know who's watching. Kind of makes me re-think the outfit I wore to work the other day- it was 80's day. Hair was big; make-up was heavy! Wonder how I looked to passing cars. But I digress.
 My point is that you never know what other people can teach you. Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk to the creepy IT guy at work. (The one who kind-of looks like a serial killer.) We were discussing the frustration that comes when technology breaks down. I mentioned my frustration with the film industry's depiction of post-apocalyptic America. (30 years later, no one has veered from the paradigm created by Mad Max.) He proceeds to tell me that he loves that stuff and that's why our fore-fathers created the second amendment.... This is usually where I exit-stage-left, but for some reason I stayed. I found out that he is training to become a blacksmith (truly a dying craft) and that he is into survival training. You know, what Bear Grylls pretends to do. Anyway I found this fascinating, and I learned from our conversation how to make a Dakota fire hole, a small campfire that the Native Americans used. Who knew?  Now it is not likely in my life that I will ever actually MAKE this sort of fire, but prior to this conversation, I didn't even know that such a thing existed. There's a whole culture of people who practice survival skills. He's not a person with whom I would regularly socialize, and I KNOW we have some very differing political views, but that's okay. In fact that's what life is all about. Meeting people who are different from you. Hearing their stories, learning from the wisdom of their experiences that you will never have yourself.

I get so angry when people are intolerant of others. A facebook friend of mine posted a warning yesterday that in 7 months the world is going to end. Yes, really. Apparently there are people out there who believe that May 21, 2011 is exactly 7000 years since Noah's flood. Google it, they claim some evidence in the Bible that that is when a giant earthquake will begin the Apocalypse. Not exactly my cup of tea. At first I was angered by what I feel is her ignorance. Then I thought about it. Why do I care? So what if her faith is predicting a doomsday in 7 months. It doesn't affect me at all. Those are her beliefs. I have to respect that. Her faith is hers; my faith is mine. I really don't understand why people waste their energy hating or judging others because they have different beliefs, or cultural mores, or sexual orientation, or genetic make-up. "Live and Let live" or in the wisdom of the Jersey Shore geniuses, "You do you, I'll do me!"

Some people collect stamps or coins, I collect friends. Not Internet friends, nothing so creepy or narcissistic. Real friends. People to get to know and love. Differences and all. We are all special and different and beautiful in some way. It is a gift to make a new friend and learn from her experience. Even if she does think the world is going to end in 7 months. Hey, maybe she's right. Maybe I should be nicer to that IT guy. If civilization as we know it comes to an end, he'd be a good friend to have!     


  1. Haha. Reading this stuff truly makes my day a little happier. I love you Melissa, and your philosophical thinking.

  2. This was my first post. And reflecting on it, I have to laugh. The world obviously DIDN'T end in March. And I DID make friends with the IT guy- who really isn't creepy at all...and has turned out to be a great friend.