Written by: Siddeeqah Jansen, Registered Counsellor
A more tolerant and kinder world is a place in which I strive to be more patient with myself and others. In that space, I can forgive myself and others for mistakes and sometimes overlook the things that go wrong. In that zone of collective compassion, we do not have to be perfect, because we operate from a shared understanding of what it means to be human.
So why are beliefs and values of what it means to be human so central to a more tolerant and kinder world? Let us take a moment to reflect on the obvious about the human race. Yes, there is only one race, the human race!
We have become so obsessed with our differences; we forget that what we have in common as a race outweighs that which separates us. Universally, diverse cultures and peoples socialised their followers in some version of the below beliefs about human beings:
- To be human is to belong; and even today, cultures in many parts of the world practice rituals to strengthen the bonds of belonging between people, but also with animals and nature.
- Humans take pleasure in cooperating, whether it is communities of practice in the corporate world, or planting and harvesting crops together in rural areas. Our elders and ancestors respect the wisdom that human beings are meant to get along with each other – differences and all.
- Diverse societies have always taken time to remind their followers of their human vulnerabilities, and thus the importance of helping and strengthening each other. Alone we may lack, but together we can pool material and socio-spiritual resources to support each other.
I once overheard someone say that human beings are never too old to learn or to love. So with the above framework of being human, let us open ourselves to learning and loving our way into a more tolerant, kinder world, seat belts fastened, please.
Whether we were taught to hate, distrust and destroy each other, people can learn to trust with sincerity and perseverance. In turn, learn to cherish and protect each other. There is also no need to deny or minimize the depth of suspicion and hostility that is currently keeping us locked in various degrees of warfare. Our news feeds and social media pages are spilling over with local and global experiences of mayhem and terror.
But increasing kindness in the world is simple, guided by the above criteria of being human include:
- Practising belonging to yourself. It is vital to first focus on the self. Being kinder to ourselves include believing that it is okay to feel hurt, angry, rejected and abused. Learn to sit with and feel the pain. Express yourself if you find a psychologically safe place to do that. Learning to listen and dialogue with ourselves can be a scary and crisis-filled healing journey, but self-compassion is the sweet fruits that we will reap over time.
- Loving the self is a prerequisite for loving the other. We treat others the way we treat ourselves.
- Begin to practice the basic building blocks of wellness: exercise, nutrition, meditation, finding purpose, rest and regular contact with nature.
- Invest time in a regular practice of something that gives you an intrinsic and lasting sense of mastery and genuine satisfaction. A hobby or anything that you are good at or find yourself drawn to do
- Start substituting people who disturb your inner peace with those who make you feel safe and accepted.
- Get together with those with who you share deeper values, with whom understanding and positive communication come easy. Coming together as human beings and creating a climate of knowledge and empathy.
- We know that human beings are practical. WE HAVE TO DO THINGS TOGETHER TO CREATE a tolerant, accepting world. Throughout millennia humans have come together to complete tasks, to survive, for leisure, to produce, to procreate, to dance, eat, sing and pray. Find the tribe with who you can do things.
- Once we have a tribe to identify with, belong to and find a higher sense of purpose with, it becomes easier to complete the tasks of grieving and forgiveness of those who have inflicted unspeakable levels of injustice and violence on us. Forgiving others instils a sense of freedom. It fills us with light, peace and eventual acceptance.
- Later as we mature in the process of forgiveness, we can even extend kindness to those who have wronged us. This may be difficult, but it contributes to being a more tolerant human being. It is of benefit not only to others but to ourselves. Love and kindness are good for our wellness.
- We must practice recognizing intolerance and biases within ourselves. Choose between not being vengeful. Focus on your inner hygiene. Stop trying to change others. Let others be. These include your nearest and dearest love ones, spouses and children. You can only change yourself.
- Be true to your beliefs but be tolerant and accepting of others who may have different views.
- We need to remember the positive feelings we feel when we are with others, sitting around the campfire, working together on tasks, letting go of that need to win the argument, helping each other find understanding. Do you remember the sense of peace? Healing? We need to be more mindful of these moments.