Do I Even Understand What Tolerance Is?

Guest Post: Paulette Mahurin (The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap)

I have had a chance to interact with some really great people in the blogging world and author Paulette Mahurin is one of those.

Paulette Mahurin is a nurse practitioner, specializing in women’s health in a rural clinic in where she lives with her husband and two rescued dogs. She also taught in several college level nursing programs, including UCLA, where she had a Master’s Degree in Nursing from their nurse practitioner program. Her two passions are writing and rescuing dogs.While in college she wrote and published two award winning non-fiction short stories.

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap is set in a small Nevada town which has just received the news of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment. It is the story of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing.All profits go Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, Ventura County, CA. (the first and only no-kill animal shelter in Ventura County). For more info contact the author through Facebook. Buy a book; save a life.

Paulette has agreed to feature here her wonderful article on tolerance.
Go ahead and read it!

First let me give a big heartfelt thank you to Priya, for asking me back to your great blog site. I’m thrilled to be here with you, my friend, thousands of miles away in geography but close at heart. When I mention this heart connection I think of all the distance that exists between neighbors living next door to each other, or perhaps even in the same home, when they don’t possess this openness of spirit. So Priya, I dedicate this to you, in India, and all our good friends who might stop by to comment, or share, in the name of tolerance, in the name of our hearts opening, that we may know a more harmony in this world.

I write so much about tolerance, the theme of my book, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, but when I look at it, I don’t even know that I fully understand what it is. Do I really understand the mechanism of bullying another, putting another down because of their nature, the color of their skin, their sexual preference, their religious beliefs, how they dress, you name it, so many possibilities, so many differences that one could pick apart in the other? Am I above all of it because I can talk about tolerance, write about it, or am I just like Jose, the evil antagonist in my story, who finds fault with everything Mildred Dunlap does? I think there’s a little, maybe even a lot, of Josie in all of us. Reminds me of a quote from Jesus, he who is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone… (John 8:7, New American Standard Bible).
Carl Jung wrote about our dark side, he called it our shadow. Rumi, the poet, wrote that when the totality that I am and my humanness meld, and then I am whole. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj wrote in his epic spiritual prose on non-dualistic existence I Am That, and I paraphrase, “I am the space in which my mind and body live.” Then there’s Krishnamurti who wrote, the thought is not the thing, which is reminiscent of Descartes, I think therefore I am. One of the most fundamental spiritual questions, when in a deep introspective meditation is, who am I?  Masters through the ages have pondered these questions. Joseph Campbell in his famous talks on religion with Bill Moyer, brings up a fundamental fact that what all religions have in common is their mysticism, what Einstein called that point when reality becomes philosophy, the point where nothing can be known.
From the perspective of these brilliant thinkers, past leaders of all religious faiths, people of Letters, of education, and the common man or woman who ponders life and the mysteries that abound; when I look at anything from this perspective I can say for sure that the only truth I can claim for certain is change, that nothing else seems certain but change. What does all this have to do with hatred, intolerance?
If the greatest thinkers, who ever lived, are still alive, and who have yet to be born, can’t answer any of these questions, then how the hell can say we understand a thing about our very nature? If everything is a mystery, from the mystery of the source that creates it all, than how can one thing be bad and another good? How can something different be anything other than simply different? Why is the fact that Mildred Dunlap is a lesbian a bad thing, in the eyes of a homophobic? How come she isn’t just someone different than the person judging? When do we stop seeing differences and see judgments? And, why do we human beings robotically buy into what our parents said, what their parents said, and not learn to use our minds to think things through, instead of our minds dictating irrationality, based on belief, programmed learning, conditioning?
I’m not knocking conditioning; it’s another human facet, trait, but then why can’t I just see it for what it is? Underneath all my thoughts, my thinking, my monkey crazy  mind that goes on automatic habitual thinking, my belief systems, under all this, in that quiet God space where life finds harmony, what is? There’s that quiet ,and yet all the other. Both existing together, both interweaving, erupting, without provocation or cause, just doing its thing.
What I’m trying to say is, I’m human. We all are and we all do this. We judge yet come out with ridiculous statements like, I don’t judge, I’m not judgmental, then we spew out, okay I spew out, things that are so judgmental and when I’m called on it, I defend why I’m not doing it. In writing this book, I saw a lot of this in myself, especially while writing about Josie, the hate filled rumor mongering bitch, who can’t keep her mouth shut, and what comes out of it is ignorant babble. I also see myself in Gus, the voice of tolerance and wisdom, I see how I want to open more, be more accepting, love more, and I also see how that is selfish because in opening I feel better, more alive.
When I started researching my book, the inspiration for the driving force of the story line, Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment, was always near at heart. He was my reminder, my metaphor, of the injustice of intolerance, all housed in beliefs, in laws, in narrow mindedness, all with roots of hatred for what is, another’s nature, that can no more change than a dog can not wag its tail. If we are to believe that God created all under the heavens and sun, then how could it be that there are creations that just aren’t right, not okay, less than human? Seems to me, this has to stem from some culturally based false belief, that gets passed down lifetimes after lifetimes, so by the time I’m into that belief, it feels real to me. Reality is created by thoughts, beliefs, and world viewpoints. If I think that guy likes me and fantasize over how I know he wants me, a reality is created inside of me. The brain doesn’t really know the difference between a thought and what’s actually happening, it secretes its chemicals, creating emotions, and man that is real. I believe I’m being rejected and it feels bad. That’s real and I’m feeling it.

If I believed Oscar Wilde was evil, or wrong, or acting illegally because he was a Gay man, then my mind is going to work it out to make it seems so. But what about what is accurate? Who among us would want to be prevented from loving? From intimacy, from the one we love? No one. It’s one of the most basic human needs from time and memorial, right along with our need to eat, drink, breathe, and if we had a switch or choice why would we chose devastation, humiliation, labeling that puts us in jail and kills? This has been the debate over sexual preference for decades, is it nature or nurture? The abundant view is nature. And, with this I agree. I agree and feel that Oscar Wilde did what came naturally, and in doing so, acting through what he could no more prevent than can a leaf from taking in carbon dioxide to survive, an ice cube melting in the sun, a fire’s warmth, all things of nature, and so what’s left is my fundamental question, can I tolerate it? Can I accept what is, see my insides resisting and wanting to change it, and breathe in a new possibility, that it is different, and I’m okay with different, because different is not bad, it’s just different. After all, aren’t we all different?

About The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

The year 1895 was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; Richard Olney, United States Secretary of State, expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in settling a boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Venezuela; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for "gross indecency" under Britian's recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When the news of Wilde's conviction went out over telegraphs worldwide, it threw a small Nevada town into chaos. This is the story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted by the news of Oscar Wildes' imprisonment. It is chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing. Paulette Mahurin, the author, is a Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ojai, California with her husband Terry and their two dogs--- Max and Bella. She practices women's health in a rural clinic and writes in her spare time. All profits from her book are going to animal rescue, Santa Paula Animal Shelter, the first and only no-kill shelter in Ventura County, CA, where she lives. (see links below on Ventura County Star Article & Shelter) To find out more please go the The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap on facebook or Amazon or e-mail us at the gavatar addresses. Thank you. (photos: of Paulette, her family, and a reading at The Ojai Art Center, July 2012)
This entry was posted in ARTICLES, BLOGGER'S REVIEWS, INTERVIEWS, EXCERPTS. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Do I Even Understand What Tolerance Is?

  1. Tolerance and total acceptance are two different things. If more people realized this, they could disagree about their belief systems without doing harm to gay and lesbian people.

  2. Hello Barbarastanley, and thank you. Excellent point.

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