Why Not Tolerance? (February 2013 issue Supporting Authors)


Why Not Tolerance?


Paulette Mahurin, author of

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

I’ve been writing about intolerance for the better part of this year, writing about bigotry, persecution, prejudice and hatred.  For the sake of clarity, I want to define tolerance which is a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tolerance)  The concept intolerance is not just the absence of, or opposite of, tolerance but unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs, persons of different races or backgrounds, etc.  (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/intolerance)

What is at the root of this unwillingness or refusal? The truth is I don’t know, but in writing about it, looking at it, looking at my own heart and soul, I’m finding things about myself that are really creating some mental chaos. I find it interesting when someone judges another,  “I don’t like gays or lesbians,” they say, and in the next breath, “I’m not judgmental!”  I do that. Not about gays or lesbians, African Americans, Jewish people or any large class of peoples, religions, beliefs included, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone, but I do it when I judge something to be wrong or negative. Someone makes me wrong, disagrees with me in an unpleasant way, and I’ve got my script ready to fire and it becomes all about them, and not what their actions are-their words, but I label them, stupid, bigot, small minded, and in essence what I am doing is that very thing that I’m accusing others of, I’m judging, putting them down, because my frail ego has been nicked or worse, they just don’t go along with my agenda or expectations of what is tolerant, loving, compassionate.

I started to really see this in myself when I started writing my book, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, and it’s a good thing I did because I feel it afforded me a greater depth and sensitivity into the underbellies of the characters I wrote about. We all have shadows, per Carl Jung, darker sides, the part of the whole which along with the good, makes us what we are—human beings. We’re all human, with similar emotions, we don’t like pain or loss, love to belong and feel wanted, to feel good, and share many things in common, and yet we’re so at odds with our different beliefs, hate each other because of them, want to change each other, instead of embracing differences. I don’t understand why we can’t just agree to disagree and see the differences, instead of labeling and castigating another. Sure, on the surface I get it that we are raised with our varying belief systems, religious beliefs, the prejudices of our parents, etc. but we also have the capacity to think logically, so why don’t we?

My philosophy on life is pretty simple; do what you want just don’t hurt another.

I’ve no problem if your God is not my God, your skin color is not my skin color, my preference is not your preference, on and on but why hate me for it? You don’t have to like me but why turn your dislike on me and label me bad, irreverent, heretical, evil? I had a woman review my book a few weeks back. She used the term, “one of them” to refer to lesbians and gave the book a thumbs down because, “We don’t associate with them.” She also gave the book a thumbs-up because it was the best characterization of any story she’s read.  All her other comments seems so coherent and logical, but this one. But in her mind, this is what her religion states that it’s evil to indulge in same sex relationships. I wonder how she really feels, inside her own heart and soul. I don’t fault her and was grateful for the honest comment because putting them into the sunlight allows a conversation to begin. I don’t know any other way to make inroads in hatred then to start with dialogue.

I don’t know of anyone who wants to be at the receipt end of a label that generates disgust and hatred and I also don’t understand why “we” lack the compassion to see that there by the Grace… My story embraces Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment for “indecency” which occurred in 1895, shortly after Britain had changed its laws to make it a criminal offense for a man to be with a man. Wilde went to prison for two years and was not allowed pen or paper, forced on a tread mill six hours a day, fed watery porridge and slept on a hard wooden board. For something he could no more change than we can stop breathing, than a dog can stop wagging its tail, or a leaf live without carbon dioxide, all things natural, occurring with as a part of the design of nature, and God if you will. The only thing that makes it wrong is what we believe, what we read or hear and buy into.

It’s hard to suspend our beliefs, especially if our lives are invested in going along with them, to belong to our family, our group, our jobs may depend on it, but were we to suspend our beliefs to view another as-is, then what? It seems to me that the mind can never comprehend what the heart already knows, of all that is possible. We learn this when dealing with patients with terminal illness or we encounter an inexplicable miracle, then all of a sudden everything changes. The kindness and capacity of forgiveness of the heart is immeasurable, it therefore seems accurate that it would gain an individual great inner growth and joy, to embrace a willingness to see another human being, who has differences from our own, for what it’s worth, different, and not bad.











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.

39 Responses to Why Not Tolerance? (February 2013 issue Supporting Authors)

  1. Powerful indeed. Thank you for writing it!

  2. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Wonderful sentiments, that if the whole world embraced, the whole world would be embracing.

  3. I have a feeling that, left to ourselves, we would be tolerant beings…..if not used by institutions to reinforce the power of those who run them.
    It isn’t as simple as that…whatever is…but I feel that it is an important factor.

    • It’s a very important factor. The societal pressure one feels — to go along, to belong, can be oppressive to self-expression and freedom leaning toward tolerance and compassion to others that are different. And, agree also it isn’t as simple as that…the human condition, ego manifestations, dualistic thinking and belief systems are way too complicated for my simple mind to comprehend. Thank you Helen.

  4. I think Helen makes a valid point about institutions. If we look at other cultures, the main thing we have in common with all of them is that incest is wrong. Every other moral judgement changes depending on the culture; and even the definition of incest may be different. So we have to change the culture.

  5. pishnguyen says:

    Powerful, beautifully said, and so very true. Thank you for this.

  6. seeker says:

    I can relate to your philosophy in life. To suspend our disbelief is pretty hard not to think about it. But to curb one’s tongue is good for daily practice. Your post reminded me of a short poem: I do my thing and you do your. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations. And you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I. And if per chance we find each other, that’s beautiful. And I add, as long as I don’t hurt anyone, that is beautiful.

  7. gita4elamats says:

    – Buddha

  8. mixedupmeme says:

    Some of us are meant to write. You write what many of us feel and think but just aren’t able to express in words. Or maybe I am the only one who can’t.

    Maybe if we were all required to sit down and write out our actual beliefs…. not say them out loud with a lot of if, ands, buts and you knows and er a’s. But actually write them down, we might get to know ourselves better. We might even be a bit embarrassed to have anyone read them. We might admit that we need some rethinking.

    You did get us thinking…..thanks!! 🙂

    • Nothing wrong with the way you write and express yourself. I visit and read your site regularly and like it (& you) a lot. We just can’t judge ourselves accurately. I see the interchange at your site and how much your cyber friends enjoy hanging with you. The critic inside our head gets in the way of our heart sometimes. Please trust what I’m saying is sincere. I think the only thing that is a mark of a writer is just to write. It’s a process, that’s all. Some will love it, some not. Someone else could read what I wrote here and write that’s preachy BS and trust me I’ve gotten that feedback as well as positive. Thank you so much for stopping by and chatting at my place. Big hug to you friend and wishing you a great day. Paulette

  9. mixedupmeme says:

    I was responding to a blogger earlier who was talking about not being a writer and I gave him about the same advice as you are giving me: JUST WRITE. Should listen to my own advice I guess.
    This blogger wrote in the clearest way because he just ‘talked’. This made the blog interesting.

    I really love my followers. And for the very reason you mention. They chat and sometimes they chat with each other. I like it when there is interaction.

    And I did have a good day. Thank you. 🙂

  10. mixedupmeme says:

    I had read your post on tolerance and also another blog post about tolerance. I also had seen some things on the web that disturbed me. Actually I see something everyday on the web that disturbs me. lol
    What I need to do is stay off the web……..fat chance.
    So I made my own post about it. But no matter….read it or not.

    Then I realized I had made another post today about animal cruelty and then read your reblog about What’s a Dog.

    (I am getting to the point)

    I don’t own pets and probably never will……but enjoy those of others in their yards…lol
    So I don’t write much about them.
    I maintain or write or something in another blog that I started just recently. Why another blog? Just did.
    This is my post about the cruelty.


    • Your poem on cruelty is very powerful. Pets are not for everyone and thank goodness we all have various differences to make this an interesting place we inhabit. If “we” could embrace these differences then … I like to imagine this nicer, calmer, less violent world where we don’t have to feel we need to avoid the net or news because it’s all bad. I know what you mean. I can’t avoid it so I try to keep a balance. My fury kids help me volumes with that so does my best friend hubby. 🙂

  11. Thank you for the lovely post. One time, when having a discussion with my daughter about how to avoid marriage pitfalls (based on my divorce from her father), I attempted to help her get past desperately analyzing “why.” I said, “Do what makes you happy and add to the net good in the world.” Same thing you said, different words. We are so wise! 🙂 I agree with your philosophy and appreciate the peace you added to my day! Blessings, Diane

  12. From the get-go, we are taught to distinguish ourselves from others. That’s probably not a bad thing in and of itself. Where we go astray is when we start believing that “different” means “better than” or “worse than” someone or something else.

    And it always seems to go there–never stopping at just “different than.” That’s why we have to change the culture to focus on our mutual similarities: our common struggles, hopes, fears, joys, challenges. When you see someone who is like you, you have a harder time hating them because they are like you.

  13. gita4elamats says:

    Here’s another one: http://benrogerswpg.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/outdoors-goodmorning-sunshine-dog/#like-14981
    Talking about difference, I love how dogs are so different from us humans.

  14. I like that you see your own fallibility–and cop to it. So many of us don’t–myself included sometimes–but the biggest thing is realizing when it’s happening–the thought/action is intrinsically negative (wrong) You write so well! I am going to have to research your book, for sure. 🙂 (and cute dogs, at the Gravatar place..)

    • Thank you, Charron’s Chatter. I think it was the gift, & curse, of being ill for so long. When the Lyme bacteria got into my nervous system and I had meningitis and paralysis I had no where to go, no escape, and had to sit at the seat of “me” for days. Talk about self reflection, a lot of seeing, purging, more seeing and processing started. It’s an ongoing process but ultimately it opened me more to humility and a deeper compassion – the there by the Grace… It’s not easy but it sure does open the heart a whole lot wider. I so appreciate your kind words about my writing. I love to write and read others (like yours). And, thank you for the comment about my fury kids 🙂 my passion.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s