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I am a hypocrite. I have probably already contradicted myself several times in the last 48 hours of making my first few posts. Here I am preaching about the importance of tolerance, when I myself am just as intolerant as the people who I have described in my previous posts.
These posts not only serve to convey an important message to the world, they also remind me to work on myself. I’m trying really hard to dismantle intolerance within myself, towards a lot of things and its both challenging and rewarding. I’m now going to share a few stories that I am not particularly proud of. Frankly just thinking about the examples makes me feel ashamed of myself, but I hope that I have come a long way since then.
I was getting ready to hit the town for a night out with a few girlfriends. I decided to be a little risque and put on a really revealing top. I wasn’t quite sure if it was appropriate, not just for that particular occasion, but generally ever. When my husband (then fiance or boyfriend- I don’t exactly remember) saw what I was wearing, he gave me an unimpressed look followed by the sarcastic comment- “Could you be wearing any less clothing?”
Immediately I felt empowered to start my unnecessary feminist rant of “I can wear what I want”, “This makes me happy”, “Don’t tell me how to dress” etc. Then the following scary-scary thought popped into my mind. It wasn’t just a fleeting thought, it was something that I had attached weight to-
“He demands me to cover-up because he is Muslim”.
I don’t have anything to say for myself. The thought entered my mind and I considered it. It was detrimental to me, to him, to our relationship and probably to humanity in general. ANYONE, including myself could have told me that the article of clothing was revealing. Had that person been my Mum, or my friend, I wouldn’t have gone ahead and dragged their religion into the discussion I was having with myself in my head.
I didn’t need to verbally articulate the thought, just thinking it was enough for it to be written on my face anyway. My better half read it in my eyes and said: “Are you really giving into what society thinks I’m going to do to you? Do you really think I am trying to break you? That I am trying to project Islam onto you? How could you think that?”
I cried, and he comforted me. I should have been comforting him and apologising profusely, but instead he held me and told me that everything was going to be okay and assured me that I am not a horrible person.
I’d love to say that stupid these thoughts stopped entering my consciousness after that occasion, but that would be a lie. Similar thoughts popped into my head when my Hubby told me that he wasn’t comfortable with me taking pole-dancing classes and that he didn’t like me staying out late at night without his company. He didn’t tell me to go to a mosque, befriend Mullahs and pray 5 times a day. But I felt entitled to interpret his concerns about my reputation and safety in that way.
My husband never gave me the third degree for having these impure thoughts. He didn’t label me “intolerant” or “racist” or “religionist”. He just simply accepted me and continues to accept me for who I am, as I am, with whatever thoughts that enter my mind. This makes me wonder why can’t I just simply do the same? Why can’t we all do the same? Simply accept people as they are without labelling and without trying to force them into a mould produced by stereotypes. I know from my own experience that it’s easier said than done, but it needs to be done.
Having been born in a different country to parents of contrasting religions and growing up with a different culture, doesn’t make me any more or less susceptible to intolerance. In this regard, I need to work on myself just as much as anyone else does. The way we interpret what others say to us depends a lot on our own perceptions and paradigms, not necessarily on what the other person is actually saying. Lets not be quick to jump to conclusions, especially those offered to us by stereotypes.
“Be the change you want to see in the world”
Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled “Introduction…”.