I’m Not Teaching My Children Tolerance, Neither Should You

I'm Not Teaching My Children Tolerance, Neither Should You | Sedruola Maruska

Tolerance, really? This post holds a bit of harsh language. . . You’ve been warned. 🙂

I’m a woman of Haitian decent. Actually, a first generation Haitian-American. In Creole the word tolerance is not ever spoken in nice tones. It’s usually delivered with disdain and harshness. Which is why it always baffles me when organizations and people here in America speak of “tolerance” as a thing to teach.

Tolerance, for me, is not what I think to teach my children when it comes to other people.

Thinking I might be misunderstanding the word I decided to look up tolerance in the Merriam-Webster dictionary online. I teach my son (and soon my daughter) to look up words, so that was my default. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just tainted by the connotation ‘tolerance’ held in Creole vs. English.

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I'm Not Teaching My Children Tolerance, Neither Should You | Sedruola Maruska

The Definition

Imagine my shock when I read the first definition listed:

“capacity to endure pain or hardship”

I was right! My education did not fail me (in that regard) and when put in context in Creole, that’s exactly what it means. It’s a feeling of being able or unable to ENDURE pain or hardship presented . . .

“sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own”

Sympathy? Indulgence? Still not things that invoke hearts or rainbows . . . Let’s continue

“the act of allowing something.”

*Sigh*

Wait, what? So basically “I will allow you to be black” or “I will allow you to be Jewish” or “I will allow you to be gay”? The final set of definitions is what threw me over the top…

“the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (such as a drug) or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure developed a tolerance to painkillers; also :  the immunological state marked by unresponsiveness to a specific antigen (2) :  relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor”

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Synonyms

Why the Fuck (excuse me while I put on my elitist cap) would I want to teach my children to look at people as “things to be endured” or “hardships to indulge”? We’re teaching “tolerance”?

I am, they are, we are all human beings,  no one wants to simply be “tolerated”! I don’t want you in my space looking at me as something to “endure”! If you find my mere presence offensive then get the fuck out of my space. Do not put us in a position where you’re “enduring” a “sustained” trauma and I’m thinking we’re communicating.

Still not fully convinced? Well, neither was I, although I was getting there quickly, so I looked up words that may be similar in meaning, you know synonyms:

forbearance, long-suffering, sufferance, patience

Then related words:

acquiescence, resignation; passiveness, passivity; amenability, compliance, conformism, docility, obedience, subordination, tractability, willingness; discipline, self-control; submission, submissiveness

Correct me if I’m wrong but there’s a pattern here. All these words imply that those who are “tolerant” are in a state of great discomfort and in a position to be easily misled.

Teaching people to “tolerate” other people needs to be the teaching of last resort, not the platform! Because, at the very least, we should be tolerant. Tolerance is not the first thing to teach. . . I do not want to simply be tolerated.

An Examination

Have you ever been on a diet where you had to endure eating in a way that made you feel deprived? Did you stick with that diet or did you rebel and look for something new? That’s what I thought.

When forced to stay in a state of discomfort, say like chronic pain, people don’t learn what they need to grow, they simply learn to endure. That is tolerance. How can I, in good conscience, teach my children to endure other people? That will in turn teach them they are powerless and must endure the unfavorable situation when someone else is simply enduring their presence. I do not stay in the presence of those I think are merely enduring my presence.

“Mommy, can I change my color?”

It seems to me, this tolerance thing is blowing up in our faces right now. Alt-right, white supremacists are running rampant in our streets when for years many allowed themselves to think they were a thing of the past. What they were doing was “tolerating” us (blacks, Jews, gays, other). They’ve been uncomfortable for too long. In that discomfort they were made “submissive”, “passive” and are now fighting for a state of comfort.

Groups of people that have been taught to “tolerate” and others that have been “tolerated”, all living in a sustained state of discomfort are pushing back. No human wants or should stay in a state of sustained discomfort.

The Alternative

No, I’m not going to teach my children to tolerate people. Nor am I going to teach them to endure being tolerated. I’m teaching my children to be curious and open to other ways of life. I’m teaching them the richness of  experiencing and indulging in theirs and other cultures, immersing themselves in the beauty that is diversity. I’m teaching them to love.

When we’re open we gain insight and information about people and situations we don’t understand. Staying open means having sincere conversations and asking questions that bring information that’s otherwise a mystery. My children are learning that if they don’t like someone, they don’t have to be tolerant of that person. They walk away. They’re also learning that liking someone is never based on the way a person looks, worships or loves. Liking someone is based on who they are. There are people of all races, creeds, religions etc. who are assholes. We don’t have to tolerate that shit.

In turn, I’m not here to simply be tolerated.

Tolerance is the teaching of last resort.

Tolerance is the act of last resort.

So, if you haven’t talked to me, been open to me and learned anything about me because of the color of my skin, I DO expect you to tolerate me. Because I’m here, I’m not going anywhere and it’s your choice to stay in your ignorant state of stress.

What’s blowing up right now is a whole lot of tolerance gone awry. We take the teaching of last resort,  make it the best option and now people are done tolerating. We’re not teaching sensitivity to culture, because we’re afraid to teach culture. We’re not teaching an understanding of people, because we’re afraid to teach history properly. Kids aren’t learning  love, they’re learning to “get along” and to “tolerate”.

Teaching anyone to simply tolerate things that can never change will never end well.

Antonyms

The one antonym:

Impatience

The near antonyms, those words that are close to the opposite of tolerance:

defiance; contrariness, disobedience  insubordination, intractability, recalcitrance, resistance, willfulness

Sound familiar?

When tolerance is no longer sustainable you’ll get the opposite.

Take Away

Teach history, culture, inclusion, sensitivity and love. Then, if by some horrible twist, those things don’t work, teach tolerance. But please, take it from someone who is of a “tolerated” class, don’t teach tolerance first. If tolerance is the only lesson that sticks, then impatience is not too far behind



Being Smart is Sexy – Resist & Persist

Being Smart is Sexy, Resist & Persist | Sedruola Maruska

Being smart IS sexy.

In college I met all types of men & women. We were just embarking on this ride called life. There were classes to take, activities to join, places to go and people to love. Looking back I see how my years in college were vital to shaping the years to follow.

Relationships were always tricky. Navigating different personalities and philosophies could end up in a lifetime union or in disaster. But relationships were always part of college life and they were a distraction from school work and the great beyond.

I remember several times thinking to myself “I wish he didn’t talk.” Ladies, let’s be real, you know exactly what I’m talking about. He’s cute, ladies love him, and you’re wondering why he had to open his mouth and show you the hollow of his mind. . . .

Being Smart is Sexy, Resist & Persist | Sedruola Maruska

Don’t be hollow

Ladies, don’t be the “I wish she didn’t talk” girl. I’m not worried about the men, they say what they want, when they want. They don’t have the same censors we do. I’m worried about us. We spend the better part of our time diminishing ourselves and pretending to be small when we’re not. We’re surprised when a fellow sister does open her mouth to say what she feels or thinks. Sadly, we’re also so conditioned that we turn on her for being who she is without apology.

We dress our silence or smallness up as being humble, failing to realize that smart is sexy. Being able to speak full sentences strung together to mean something, is sexy! That’s why we wonder about those “hollow” guys. It’s because we don’t understand why we need to pretend we’re on their intellectual level, when clearly we’re not.

I’m not exempt. I’ve made myself small many times. I’ve kept my mouth shut for fear of sounding too smart, too dumb, saying the wrong thing, not having the facts and a host of other reasons. Thing is, men don’t censor themselves that way. That’s why when they go on about things that make no sense we feel uncomfortable. Our self-censorship puts us in situations where we’re not challenging our intellectual capacity.

We think we need to be small to fit into someone’s idea of who we “should” be. When what we should be doing is showing them who we “are”. We’re varied humans with thoughts, ideas, opinions and feelings. Learning to express them in a way that speaks to our truth without diminishing another is sexy. Smart is Sexy!

The result

Have you noticed how when we do put ourselves out there and find someone who can keep up, it turns us on! Can you imagine, that’s how he feels too? Contrary to popular belief, men (let’s not generalize, many men) find smart incredibly sexy in women. We don’t give them enough credit sometimes. They know that a smart woman will be a help to them along the way. They know that you being smart doesn’t diminish their intellect.

Smart is sexy! I don’t say that thinking it’s to find a man, I say that so you can feel your strength. There’s a new breed of people who are doing their best to make smart seem “stupid”, I’m not here for that. Resist the temptation to fit in with that culture. Persist in your pursuit of more knowledge. Smart whether it’s book, street, emotional or social is important to keep ideas flowing and innovation happening.

Feeling, looking and being sexy because of your smarts is just a lovely by-product. Step into yourself. Love yourself. Enjoy those things that push your intellectual growth and challenge your ideas. Be smart! Not just because smart is sexy, but because your survival depends on it.

Now, more than ever, women are at the forefront of major innovations and change. We need to keep pushing forward so we keep going in our becoming.

Becoming stronger.

Becoming bigger.

Becoming more respected.

Becoming more confident.

Becoming smarter.

We are always becoming when we are constantly learning and allowing that learning to be challenged.

Used to be women weren’t allowed into places where men were talking policy, strategy, or other such “smart” things that we would never understand. Now, we’re showing that we not only understand, but we have innovative ideas about how things can be done in all areas from our homes to our communities.

So be smart, stay smart and keep becoming smarter because this new idea that smart is “stupid” is stupid. Let’s not be afraid to share the ideas we have and to push through when we’re being cut off. Let’s do as men do and remove our censors so we can put the ideas forth that may make a difference. Smart is sexy. Yes, we’ll still have to prove ourselves over and over again, but luck for us it simply makes us better.


I was at the women’s march for you

Women's March | Sedruola Maruska

I live in a sleepy New England town with a population of about 8 thousand.

We live in a nice home, drive a van and the kids are part of a very good school system.

We go on vacation, travel to see family & enjoy a nice life in our sleepy town.

On Saturday, January 21, 2017 I went on my first protest march. The women’s march was a beautiful experience of unity & love.

I’m done having babies, so I didn’t march for my reproductive rights. I marched for my daughter, nieces & friends who don’t need to have their choice taken away by men in suits with no clue about a woman’s body.

Women's March | Sedruola Maruska

I have insurance so I can go get checked out as needed without feeling that I’ll need to ransom an ovary to do it. But there was a time when Planned Parenthood was my only option as a temporary worker with no insurance and very little money.

College for me was almost 30 years ago so assault on campus is not a personal concern. . . but it is if I consider that my nieces and their friends are currently in college and should be heard when they say they were assaulted. My son will one day be in college and he needs to know assault is not acceptable. My daughter will also one day be in college and she needs to feel safe going and being there. I can’t always be there to protect, guide and defend them.

I do not encounter the daily trials of hunger, abuse, gender discrimination or even racial discrimination that many do, so I could sit home and choose to believe “If it’s not my reality, it’s not really happening.” I chose not to do that. Why? Because I know that many that came before me marched, fought were beaten and died so I could have what I have today.

I want my children, and yours, to have tomorrow.

So, on Saturday, January 21, 2016 I went on my first march and became an activist! The Women’s March created in me an activist for women of color, lesbians, disabled women, aging women, young women, poor women & rich women. Because no matter how “safe”, “heard” or “privileged” you feel, you’re not.

I didn’t know what to expect. Having seen many “Protests gone wrong” I knew there was a slight chance of mayhem. I went anyway.

I knew my intentions, and the intentions of those with me, were to make our voices heard. There was no hate, just a sense of love and needing to do right for the coming generations.

So I marched and joined my voice with millions around the world:

  • For my son. He’s learning to respect those who respect him, stop when told “no” and stand up to bullies. He’s learning to be a good man by watching the men around him and aspiring to greatness by watching our leaders . . . I cannot let him watch a “leader” who undermines all that he’s learning to become.
  • For my daughter. She needs to know that there are no limits to what she can accomplish. She needs to know that her body is her own and no one she dates or votes for has the right to tell her what she should do with it. She needs to see and know that leaders are leaders because they hold high ideals. She needs to be safe on campus or on the streets.
  • For women of color who wake up every day to face this world with love & grace even though this world greets us with resistance. We know we and our children are targets for hate, yet we still rise, work and contribute to society.
  • For our right to have equal pay for equal work. We don’t need to be judged by the color of our skin, we need to be judged by the skills we bring to the table.
  • For my LGBT family and friends. They deserve to live their lives free from bias, full of love and free of violence. They deserve marriage, babies and all the same access as any of us do.
  • For women around the world. Because when our rights as women are eroded anywhere it weakens the rights of women everywhere. We are a wave rising together, and the number of women, who in their own countries joined the march, shows an understanding of the moral wrongs that need to be right.
  • For all women. Because human rights around the world are women’s rights and to have a man & cabinet that do not respect our rights is not okay.
  • For me. Because I needed to connect with others, men & women, who felt as strongly as I do that a racist, misogynistic person in the highest post in the land was not okay.

I marched for all women, even those who opposed the march, because in the end we will all benefit.

What good will it do?

If marching did no good, why would we keep exercising our right to do it? The march wasn’t the whole wad, it was only the beginning of a movement. The march was to galvanize and send a message, the real work comes after the march. It comes in the form of taking 10 actions in the next 100 days and doing our part in our worlds once we leave the march.

So, on Saturday, January 21, 2017 I marched because I believe that being a woman doesn’t mean second class, it means life. I marched to solidify my determination to do my part to have conversations, teach, love & support all women.

Ways to make a difference

  1. Call your representatives. You can email or contact on social media, but nothing makes an impact as much as calling and having their phones ring off the hook. You can easily find your representatives number by Going To This Website  and entering your zip code! They do listen.
  2. Join an organization that’s already working for you. Here are a few suggestions: Women’s March, ACLU, SwingLeft, Action Network , Injustice Boycott
  3. Learn as much as you can about what’s happening on major issues: Climate Change, Women’s Health, Healthcare, National Security
  4. Learn about your upcoming mid-term elections and who your candidate is. Help them by spreading the word
  5. Start an action group in your area by just banding with others and deciding what your main cause will be.

There are many ways to make sure your voice is heard that are easy but effective. Learn what they are and take action.

I feel a lot of frustration, but I’ve decided that channeling my frustration into action keeps me from feeling sick, useless and a victim to circumstance.

We cast our vote so we have all the right to work so our votes counts. How will you join the movement?