Croskey’s Corner: Tolerance
One of the older versions of the Character First! definition for Tolerance had an “I will” statement which said, “I will curb the urge to judge others.” Judging others reminds me that one of the original leaders of the Character Council, Cincinnati Police Sergeant Steve Saunders, likes to say that we on the Council are not the Character Police. Absolutely not. And Steve should know who the police are! So Tolerance gets us thinking about times we are judgmental or prejudiced.
A story may help. I have a former colleague, and friend, Julie Renner. She has been a teacher, principal, and athletic director. A while back, I listened to her describe her experience running the Flying Pig Marathon. Julie was sailing along and caught up with a woman who was running with a hurt leg. Clearly the woman was having difficulty continuing. Julie asked her if she could help by running with her for a while. That sounded great to the injured runner. Julie “curbed the urge” to try to surpass her personal best running time and chose instead to support the injured woman physically and emotionally. Talk about being aware that someone was functioning at a different level. I told my wife, Nancy, the story and she said, “Sounds like a good example of Tolerance!” (We talk a lot about Character Qualities at our house.)
I believe that one difficulty that people have with being Tolerant is sometimes connected to their own personal standards. Let’s take you! You likely are somebody who really does try to do the right thing – practically every time. You place your students’ needs first – ahead of your own. You want your school to be admired for substantial success, not public relations hype. In your personal life you believe in being loyal to your loved ones. You raise your children so that they will grow up to be independent, respectful adults. You appear to be really strong on your surface, but underneath you have doubts and fears. Nevertheless, you do what is right and pray you don’t get hurt in the paybacks.
You ARE all of these things, but you find yourself in conflict with others who do not seem to hold the same high standards you do. One of your rules is that if you do not stand up for what you believe in, you are not being true to your ideals. You greatly fear a lack of integrity. So, you find yourself being judgmental of others who are a threat to your standards, Tolerance for another’s different character development feels to you as if you are watering down your standards. “Different” character beliefs feel like “Inferior” character to you. (But you would rather not have to say this!)
Well, be of good cheer. Chill. Your level of standards scream at the rest of us. Watered down? No, they are 200 Proof. We know what you stand for. We DO respect you and your standards. (But, begrudgingly sometimes.) We DON’T always measure up to your standards; but we are having a hard enough time holding up our own standards. Still, we are learning from you. We are better because we get to be around you. You have changed us permanently. If you move on to another school, your standards will remain here as a legacy.
It must be lonely and tiring: battling, arguing, playing Devil’s Advocate, going against the grain. You want us to change overnight. Well, we are afraid – and we’re tired, too! So we won’t change as fast as you’d like. But, remember what we were like when you came? We won’t be returning there, either. It’s because of YOU. You are just going to have to be Patient with us.