Thank you all very much for your patience while I’ve been ill. It turns out that your patience is quite fitting, because today our March of Kindness assignment will involve determining the subtle difference between patience and tolerance.
We feel patience with someone when we perceive that they generate some degree of value in our lives that we do not want to lose.
Maybe that value is that they’re the clerk at the store and we need their help to purchase something that has value to us. Or maybe it’s a co-worker whose advice you value and so you offer to look after their dog while they’re away.
In our personal lives, it can be a very sick spouse with has such tremendous value that their partner can serve them for many years, despite receiving no reciprocation. It all depends on how much one person perceives the other’s value.
Since we start from a position of goodwill, we tend to use the word ‘patience’ for situations we deem as reasonable. We begin to use the word ‘tolerance’ once we feel we’re extending past what is reasonable or, in other words, past the point where the other person’s value has run out in proportion to the request being made.
But what about those people that start with no value in our emotional bank?
When meeting most strangers very few of us will presume the worst, and many of us will presume something so positive that we’ll offer our own positivity in advance. But there are some people that we immediately assume we’ll be out of alignment with.
The reasons don’t matter much; maybe we have unpleasant history between us, or maybe they’re just in a group we’ve defined as undeserving of our patience, but when people have no deposits in our bank of patience, then they are immediately borrowing from our tolerance account. This form of kindness is more dangerous to us, like an unsecured loan; where we’re unsure–even suspicious–about ever being paid back.
When we use tolerance we’re no longer investing in the value we will receive ourselves, tolerance is an investment in the Bank of Karma. That’s when –instead of believing in an individual manifestation of a person– we believe that the fundamental oneness of the universe is expansive, or “good.”
When we look at the world that way, we believe on some elemental level, that if we put positivity in, some positivity will result for someone, somewhere, somehow. Which is why today, we want to use tolerance as a way of sending some of that good karma out.
Today’s act in our March of Kindness will be to actually seek out people or ideas that we traditionally have no tolerance for. Maybe all we do is comment on a politician we see in the media, or maybe we’re aggressive with street people, or a we’re a contrarian on social media, or maybe some stranger’s just asking us for directions and we don’t want to be disturbed –however it happens, the idea is that the kindness we show today has no value to us personally –in fact, our expression of it may even exact a small price.
As I stated previously, we don’t improve the world unless we convert some darkness into light, so today’s act is particularly important. All we have to do is find one example of where we could offer negativity –a comment, a judgment, a challenge, a rebuke– and instead offer tolerance. It’s that easy.
There’s a lot of us, so if we each just take one bit of negativity and, instead of offering it to the world, we hold it back out of a sense of kindness and tolerance, then we will absolutely have made the world a better place. After all, that’s where we all want to live, and the March of Kindness is about helping us get there. Thank you for participating in our collective journey.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own over-thinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.