Bangkok has got me thinking about tolerance. Being able to make my contribution to the streets of archetypes and stereotypes, the hippies, jocks, hipsters, hillbillies, slobs, strung out rockers, slobs, punks, goths of the world. You know the tribes we speak of.
KhaoSan Road might be more of a cultural festering pot than a melting one, but it still has that “anything goes” vibe that draws people to it. That, and cheap beer that you walk around the streets with, open (I am told this is a big deal for Americans and Brits).
But what I enjoy is that it goes beyond a tolerance for stereotypes and archetypes. Does it matter if he chooses to wear tattoos and I don’t choose to wear a bra? No. Will you stare if I am disabled or care that we are a mixed race family? Nope. Will you cater for me if I have a lot of money or just a few Baht in my pocket. Sure.
It’s not a comment on the Thai people specifically. I am sure they have their intolerances. Their recent political troubles would suggest so. It’s about celebrating and protecting spaces that make you feel safe to choose and live the way you do, without judgement or reproach. Because these spaces are becoming increasingly small and rare.
I know we live in an intolerant world.
I don’t have to look to updates on the Gaza strip or Uganda to know that we hardly tolerate each other’s opinions let alone dress, sexual preferences, religious beliefs, views on child rearing, skin colour, tattoo preference, blah blah.
The joke is that we think we are becoming more tolerant. That social media has brought us closer, that technology has given us “insight” into each other’s worlds so that they are now more familiar and accepted not distant and ridiculed.
I think not.
Have you read the comments section of any opinionated article lately? I’ll pick one at random:
“Laura – it’s ‘YogUrt,’ with a fucking U. Learn to spell.
…and please stop commenting on every fucking post like you know what’s going down in NY when you clearly don’t. You’re a tiresome bore.”
That was anonymous speaking. She/He/It (together they make Shit?) didnt even have the decency to present themselves in battle. If we can swear at someone we have never met over a medium that isn’t real for a cause that hasn’t been claimed, then we have already lost our sense of humanity.
I think we are good at cultivating the illusion of tolerance. We have the right phrases lined up; we know the right people or books to quote; and when it doesn’t turn out the way we want or we find ourselves on the wrong side of social opinion with the flames licking at our heels, we quickly throw the wet blanket of religion over it. But the smoke continues to choke us and the fires only turn to coal that lie dormant, for centuries, waiting for that one small spark.
I think we should start a Parks Board for the protection of spaces that breed social and economic tolerance. The economic part is important for me.
I dislike social as much as economic intolerance, how we can so easily disregard people’s opinions or value because they are poor, homeless, pensioned.
I enjoy spaces that allow for the small guy, the street vendor, the hawker, the underdog’s dog.
Spaces where old people don’t feel slow and functional dressers don’t feel dysfunctional.
Spaces where it’s okay to still love the eighties and not just in a ironic stylista kind of way.
Because it’s not only good for the soul, it’s good for personal growth and well, tolerance.
There’s so much value to seeking out communities/spaces/places where you get to meet and see and be part of a mixed socio-economic milieu. It makes for interesting conversations, topics, photos, cultural references.
It challenges your status quo and lets you colour outside the lines of your comfort zone.
So if you are feeling like you might just be having the same conversations over and over again and getting your opinions and beliefs reaffirmed day in and day out, I suggest an outing or day trip… to somewhere you have never been and wouldn’t normally consider “your thing”.
If you can tolerate it, that is.
Musing on. Just musing on