I love starting my day with a bit of optimism. Enter this wonderful Colbert Report segment entitled People Destroying America which a number of sites have dubbed ‘perhaps the single best segment‘ to ever air on the show.
If you have to watch just one part, hit up 6:51. It’s a big tall glass of YES.
I’m starting to see examples of this sort of heart-warming ‘small town’ tolerance more and more, both online and in meat space. Country folk get a bad rep for being close-minded but, for my money, I think that’s got a lot less to do with being inherently small-minded and way more to do with a simple lack of exposure (I know, not exactly a mind-blowing observation. Whaaat? You need to have positive exposure to something to view it in a positive light? Whoa). But seriously, we miss this point a lot. Instead of engaging with rural communities and isolated individuals in a positive and patient manner we (we being, in this instance, those with habits or perspectives considered ‘alternative’) tend to either:
1 – hide the less accepted parts of ourselves out of fear of rejection or violence or
2 – parade them about en masse with an air of ‘fuck you for not accepting me you small minded shits‘
Which isn’t doing anyone any favors. Truly.
In the Blokes You Can Trust documentary I (sort of almost) reviewed yesterday, there was a bit where band member Ross Knight, traditionally a country boy farmer, recounted how he initially refused to tour in Europe because he ‘reckoned they were all gay over there.’ Flash forward a couple years (and a couple alternative experiences) later and he’s having a laugh participating in an S&M slave auction in New York, wearing a leather harness, cod piece. . .and his Blundstones. Fucking gold.
By no means am I suggesting that practicing tolerance requires you to participate in the activities you once condemned (particularly when those activities involve getting flogged by a cricket bat) but it does illustrate a couple great points: Aversion – whether it’s xenophobia, homophobia or some other phobia entirely – is often born from fear. Having discussion amongst ‘ourselves’ is great for affirmation and comfort but, if we want real change in this world – i.e. more compassion, acceptance, tolerance – we need to talk to The Other. And, if we want them to actually listen, we need to do so in a patient and understanding manner. We also need to (prepare for another mind-blowing observation here) listen in return. To fears voiced, to stories and explanations for why road-blocks to understanding exist.
Tolerance goes both ways, people. The rules of social engagement remain the same as always. In the poetic words of Mr. Wheaton, simply don’t be a dick.
*Alas, the Gawker video link given above will not work for those of us outside of North America. I was fortunate enough to catch a version of it on youtube before it was taken down. Hopefully the clip will be up on a local site soon but, in the meantime, a mate has told me to check out the Mediahint browser plugin for geo free access. This isn’t an endorsement as I haven’t actually