Intolerance and the 4 Agreements


Last week I wrote about my concerns with the increasing levels of intolerance in the world at large and how I as an individual can approach it and try, in my own small way, to shift the needle back towards compassion, love and tolerance. In looking for that guidance for me to live by, one of the sources I turned to was The 4 Agreements. I spent quite a bit of time looking at them and trying to understand how I could apply them to my life to help, and I definitely found some wisdom there.


Being impeccable with my word and using my word in the direction of truth and love towards myself and others was a perfect place to start. I can commit to doing this, to shining light through the words I use in my posts and comments, the questions I ask to understand another, and to be gentle and compassionate in how I approach others. I can commit to not making assumptions about where someone else is coming from, what fears they have, what is going on in their life currently or has in the past that makes them act, react, or believe things in a way that is different to me. But choose to try to understand and use love and compassion instead of dehumanization, anger and/or belittling in response. I can choose to not take others’ actions or words personally, to not be affected by what I read, or the attacks and hatred that I may receive in response to anything I say. Those angry, hurtful, disturbing words say far more about the other person and their fears than they do me. I can choose whether I engage (and if so to be impeccable with my word) or to disengage with anyone. And I can choose to always do my best to shine love on anything or anyone that disturbs me, to not react or respond in a way that would increase intolerance, but to detach when I need to de-escalate, to stay calm and centered, and always try to seek understanding through compassion. Easy to do? Heck no! But is it worth it to try to lessen the amount of intolerance and hatred I feel around me? To bring peace and calm into my world? Absolutely.


On the anniversary of the USA 9/11 attacks I was listening to a speech given by the mayor of Gander, Newfoundland here in Canada; a town of 10,000 residents, who openly welcomed over 7,000 people from flights diverted when the USA shut it’s airspace. The community welcomed the travelers, took them into their homes, set up shelters and fed them and helped in any way they could. An amazing act of love and acceptance. As part of the mayor’s speech he said “Darkness is only overcome by light and hatred is only overcome by love.”. While I had heard variations on this theme many times previously, for some reason this time it really sunk in – perhaps because of the enormity of what this town collectively did. And it made me realise that while I had been feeling very alone in how to overcome this growing intolerance, there really are so many others who are stepping up and choosing to do the same. To shine their light.


And so I happily join my light with theirs – and invite you, should you choose to join – to shine bright, to illuminate the darkness, the hatred and the intolerance, and bring love to the forefront of our world. It is the little things each of us do that will change the world and if we choose to focus on and live the teachings of the Toltec, and choose acceptance over intolerance we can do this. I truly believe we can.


With love always,