Have you ever been bewildered at an otherwise placid colleague blowing up in anger over the most insignificant thing? Have you ever been livid that someone has annoyed you, yet not seemed to express any regret?
Intolerant people see the world exclusively through their own eyes, and when
other people act in opposition to the way they believe the world should be, frustration or even anger is a common response.One definition for this is self-righteousness, and there are few things in this world that cause more harm to an individual. From the moment a parent first utters the words “You shouldn’t do this, because I say so”, a child understands that it is ok to insist that the world (and everyone in it) should conform to their belief system.
As a Dad, I try my best not to always force my own belief systems on my children. It is hard to teach them how to think, whilst not telling them what to think. I will help to explain the world to them, but sometimes they should make up their own minds (within reason) about how to interact with it. The thing is, your belief systems are your own, no one else’s. My six-year-old sees the world in a certain way. He has his own little “map” of how it works, and it would be truly awful of me as a parent to insist that his “map” should be absolutely identical to mine.
He has not quite got this message yet, and we all have a tendency to forget it now and again. The red mist of self-righteousness descends and the foot stamps on the floor.
To give an example, he delights in following instructions to the letter, and the moment his sister finds a more “creative” solution (I’m sure she partly does it to annoy him!), he sometimes cannot help himself. “You have to follow the instructions!” Well, no mate, that is just your view of the world.
We went to visit a local castle today. My daughter decided that she was going to walk around the maze starting at the exit rather than the beginning. My son couldn’t handle this, and tears started to well up. “She should be doing it properly Daddy.” Cue my response…. “Should she, mate? Who decides what properly means in any case? Who says you can’t walk around a maze backwards? Just because that is the way that you believe it should be, doesn’t mean that she needs to live according to your beliefs.” He thought about this, and, bless him, agreed with me and walked around the maze backwards with her.
As Andre Maurois said, “Everything that is in agreement with our personal desires seems true. Everything that is not puts us in a rage.”
We should all learn to be a little more tolerant.
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