Tolerance. It’s an ideal I’ve heard expressed numerous times, mistakenly applied to social justice and even held by my own self, before I knew there were other alternatives to bigotry. It is.. Well, I’d say in my opinion, but opinions aren’t backed by cold logic.
My reality is that tolerance is a broken goal to aim for.
One tolerates things they don’t like. Tolerating something is just putting up with something until you can remove it from your life. One tolerates marginalized groups only because one doesn’t accept them, which is a much more powerful thing.
And when one speaks of tolerance as the highest possibly goal, they frame marginalized people as something that will always be disliked and never accepted, that people should just put up with because… Because..
I don’t know. I don’t know why they’d put up with us while they still hate us, still believe that enough contemptous applications of “disgusting” will make me eat nicely.
Still believe that she asked for it, that plus-size clothing stores are admitting defeat, that all the broken people need to be fixed, instead of that the marginalized people need to be unoppressed.
I experience tolerance every day. It is flapping my hands, and knowing that I am dragging myself, oh so slowly, across a thin white veneer that is easily torn. And when you tear that veneer, it opens on the now-rippled surface of the nightmarish abyss in which every prizing of allism and hatred of autism slowly writhes its way to the surface, each holding out a carefully nurtured nightmare in offering, to root in your mind as one more thing to lash out when memory creeps near.
Sometimes, that veneer rips under its own weight. Tolerance is living an inch from it, and knowing you do. You know at any moment, your life could end. You could be grabbed for being too energetic, too gleeful and free and loud, with your high-pitched noises and your flapping hands that say “this is the best thing ever” to anyone who understands you.
You could have a meltdown from that, and batter your head on a wall, or batter the grabber, but regardless batter your way into a courtroom where you are put away behind the door of a mental hospital, where the noise is terrible, and there is no routine. Where there is no way for you to be okay enough to get out.
That simple, deadly series of events runs through my mind whenever I do anything that might get me touched, shouted at, talked at by many people, or overstimulated in any other way.
And that, folks, is tolerance.