A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never quite sure. ~Lee Segall
I ran across the quote a few weeks ago, and I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit ever since. We live in an age where tolerance and acceptance (vital social skills) are being trumpeted loudly, but we find that we are losing personal direction and certainty as we grapple with all of the choices available to us.
Trying to be all things to all people is exhausting and confusing. We become unable to determine our own guiding personal beliefs! How do we find a balance?
Here are my thoughts:
- Tolerating and accepting others does not have to include adopting their beliefs and practices.
- I think we have gone a bit off-center as a society by beginning to believe that truly accepting and tolerating another person means adopting their views as our own. Do we really want a world where everyone thinks and acts the same way? Sure, being around people who are like us is the most comfortable social environment we can have, but what happens when we need new solutions and new perspectives if we are all looking at life the same way?
- Tolerance and acceptance should be able to work both ways. If the people around me and the world at large want me to be patient and understanding of their beliefs and perspectives, I should be able to expect the same courtesy that I am extending!
- In many cases, right and wrong can be measured.
- To me, it looks like the world at large wants to live with relative morality. I tend to look at this idea through my personal lens of being a music writer and a music teacher. I believe and teach that in life and in music, many times there are hundreds of right answers. We have to pick one and just roll with it. Even so, there are some musical answers that sound better (and some life answers that work better) than others.
- In most areas of the world, there are many food options from which we can choose each day. In a tolerant world, we would simply say, “eat what you life.” But, we also know that if we are consistently choosing chips and soda instead of eating a balanced diet of wholesome, nourishing foods, our health will eventually suffer.
- Life choices and guiding principles can be measured in a similar manner. “What effect will my actions and example have on others?” is one of the most important questions that I use to guide my life. As humans, we are interconnected, and many of the things we do and say have a ripple effect throughout our society.
- Choosing a personal path in life is not the same rejecting friends and loved ones for their beliefs and practices.
- Rejecting others involves shutting them out and/or putting them down because I have adopted the stance that my way is better than your way. It certainly happens, and it’s a poor mindset because it builds walls instead of bridges.
- I can choose to be different from family, friends, and others without belittling them or rejecting their company. I can find value in our differences and embrace the new perspectives that our various life-views brings to our relationship.
So, to sum things up:
Just as anyone who tries to use two watches can never believe that he or she really knows what time it is, any person trying to live by multiple life philosophies can never take a stand for right and wrong. Embrace yourself and your beliefs, and then reach out and do the same for others.