Somewhere in the lush undergrowth of G.K. Chesterton’s essays is a delightful little piece about tolerance. In this essay, Chesterton avers that, because we crave diversity (the ultimate human adventure) some of us move away from our parochial towns or suburbs into the heart of a throbbing metropolis. And there, amid the smorgasbord of languages and cultures, hip deep in the goulash of hobbies, fancies and obsessions, we are able to find a group of people exactly like ourselves. In their presence we come more and more to believe that we are the norm, and that there is something wrong with those who are not precisely like us.
If you want a real challenge, on the other hand, if you truly desire to learn tolerance, talk to the guy across the hall. Or the woman in the next cubicle. Or the couple in the front pew. Or simply sit down and wait for your family to come home!
We find the greatest diversity, the greatest challenge to our preferences and prejudices among those we do not choose to be with.
Who don’t you get? Who are you uncomfortable with? Meet them for coffee. Or tea. Or whatever weird thing they prefer. Then listen. You don’t have to agree with what they say. But listen. And try to understand. Because understanding trumps agreement any day. What are you waiting for?
The ultimate adventure awaits!