Friday, June 28, 2013

Preaching the gospel of intolerance

Yes. That's right. I am intolerant. Go ahead and get mad now. Start making up your opinions of me. All set? Good. Here we go. 
When I say intolerance, you already have some preconceived notion of what I mean. I am pretty sure this isn't what you are thinking. It's not racism or anything like that. Hardly. It's about deciding what kind of world we want to live in and doing something about it. 
My dad told me that my freedom only goes as far as the next guy's nose. He meant that we are free to do what we want until it affects other people. We don't have the right to interfere with someone else's freedom. Pretty good advice. Another guy told me something else. Pastor Don Thomas in Macon, GA said this. "The things we tolerate are the things we allow to exist." He was speaking about things in out life that need to change. Things we wish were different. Things we need to do something about. That phrase has stuck with me for over twenty years. I think about it constantly. 
When I think about that phrase, I think about the world my kids are growing up in. The world my grandchildren will end up with. There's a classic quote, that apparently nobody has been given credit for; "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Still not sure who said it, but it is incredible. It says to me, that if you want a crappy world, just sit on your butt and wait for it. Don't do anything. Everything dissolves into chaos eventually if it isn't maintained. Like your lawn. Your car. Your family. Your marriage. Your neighborhood. Your city. Your country. Your planet. If we just sit back and wait, it will all become something we didn't want. Then, we don't even deserve to complain. We let it happen. 
So, when I say I am intolerant, here's what I mean. I am not going to sit back and wait for the stupid stuff to take over my world. I have no intention of letting the things that matter get lost or damaged. I intend to do something about it. I have minimal influence on the world, but I will do what I can. I am starting out small. Suggesting you consider doing the same. 
Where do we start? Our home. If you know something upsets your wife, fix it. Don't tolerate your own laziness or immaturity. Fix it. Change it. Do something positive for your marriage. If you know she wants something, make it happen. Take up the challenge, be the man. What about the kids? Something upsetting them? Something they need? Don't tolerate bad situations or stressed out kids. Do something about it. 
Think about your neighborhood. What isn't right? For me, I absolutely hate it when the local meatheads race through my neighborhood. I feel like my kids are threatened. It's dangerous and stupid to run 45 miles an hour or more, through a residential neighborhood. So, what did I do? Several things. I started flagging down the drivers or following them to their house. ( I am still a big, scary looking guy. Haven't fixed all that yet. ) I offered several the chance to slow down on their own, voluntarily. Others refused to speak to me. I let the sheriff talk to them. I called the sheriff every time they did it. I did it enough that everyone knew who I was and why I called. Several people moved out of my neighborhood. Others just slowed down. I also called the city and got new signs installed on my street. I did something. Yay me. 
I am intolerant of men who are bad husbands. Not just the abusive, scary guys; the quiet ones, too. If you are mean, rude, neglectful, abusive, manipulative or any other aggressive kind of jerk, you are a bad husband. And..... If you are the passive guy who just lets stuff happen and does nothing about it, you are a bad husband. If you aren't actively working towards a better life for your family, you qualify. I am notorious for offering unsolicited advice. Believe it or not. When I end up in a conversation with a miserable wife or bonehead husband, I have to say something. I am morally obligated to inform people that life can be better. They can argue all they want. I am living proof that the worst marriage can be saved if the husband will make the effort. 
My kids had a few bad teachers over the years. I don't like it when my kids are upset. I went and talked to the teachers. Tried to get both sides of the story. Went to the principals after that, put my comments in writing in case it happened again. Most ended up working out just fine. Sometimes my kids were moved to a different class. Once, a teacher was fired for bullying my kid. She did that one. She wouldn't tolerate being bullied. 
I don't tolerate racism. Real racism. Not the crap everyone calls racism. Not political posturing and playing the race card. I don't want to hear your jokes. I don't want to know how you feel about someone different. My brother married a black woman. She is one of the most wonderful people I know. Her family is amazing. I love them all. I have several close friends in mixed marriages. They put up with a lot of crap from stupid people. I don't like that kind of intolerance. The kind where you just hate someone for a reason they have no control over. Like their skin, or language, or family. Get over it. I spent three months in a juvenile facility when I was sixteen. It included 475 of us, locked up together. Fourteen of us were white. Racism goes both ways. I lived in that world, too. Threatened daily, watched white kids beat up daily. Racism isn't just something white people do. It's a fact. Get over it. Use your intolerant energy for something that makes the world better. 
Start with your own family. Figure out what you hate about your life and do something about it. Get some counseling from smarter folks before doing anything ridiculous, but get it in motion. Figure out what makes your wife upset and fix it. Figure out what is bothering your kids and fix it. Figure out what is wrong in your neighborhood and fix it. Figure out what is wrong with your life and fix it. 
Become positively intolerant.

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