There are a few stories my mom loves to tell about me. One of them happened when I was about 5 years old. My family was driving in the car together and my sister Debi was talking about a situation that had her quite upset. I declared that her situation would never be a problem for me because, I said, “I have a zero tolerance policy.”

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My mom dismissed me and said, “You don’t even know what that means!” With my 5-year-old attitude I bluntly said, “I wouldn’t put up with it.”

Unfortunately, over the years, I’ve become more tolerant. Yes, that’s right, unfortunately.

Though I work to not participate in it, I tolerate rudeness. I tolerate gossip. I tolerate unkindness. Sometimes because it’s easier to let it go. Sometimes because it just seems normal. Sometimes because I’m not quite sure how else to respond.

Primal Potential isn’t the forum where I choose to share my political thoughts but while I won’t use this platform for politics, I will use this platform for kindness.

Last night, I was explaining what’s on my mind and the change I want to make in my own life to my mom. She shared with me something she heard the other day that really gets to the root of my message today.

Violence begins in your heart.

As a culture, we have we have become increasingly tolerant of unkindness and disrespect. The smaller ways this unkindness plays out in people’s rude words and actions have become the norm. We hardly notice it. It doesn’t even stand out anymore.

It’s our fault. We’ve allowed this. By allowing it, we participate in it.

Often behind the cloak of a keyboard, disrepect has taken root. As it spreads from one person to the next, it grows in it’s venom and impact. As the days turn into weeks and weeks turn into years, people have become more bold and aggressive in the displays of their unkindness and disrespect.

Even when we don’t participate in it, our silence is permissive.

I’m guilty of it.

I get rude emails every single day. I work hard to take the high road. To respond with kindness. Kindness matters to me. But I always stop short of saying, “We can totally disagree and I want to talk this through but please, don’t be rude.”

Tolerating rudeness is enabling rudeness.

I have walked away when hearing people gossip or be unkind. It was easier than making someone uncomfortable by stepping in. I’ve stopped short of saying, “Hey, I think we can do better. We don’t have to like that person, but let’s not talk behind their back.”

Tolerating gossip is enabling gossip.

I’ve been rude and unkind to my contractor. I’ve been rude and unkind to the service technicians at GE. I want to be better.

Frustration and anger cannot let me or you off the hook. 

We can communicate our frustration with kindness & respect.

Being frustrated, angry or hurt doesn’t mean being rude, demeaning or disrespectful.

It’s time to raise the standard for myself. I can do better. I will do better.

Violence begins in your heart.

That stops right here, with me, today.

And let me be really clear: that doesn’t mean we can’t disagree. We absolutely can! I’m happy to debate with passion. It doesn’t mean you can’t be frustrated with me, my messages or something happening in your life. Bring it on! Our disagreements make me better and I welcome them!

This just means that I will hold both of us to a standard of communicating with kindness and respect.

My sister refers to this as a culture of kindness.

Personally, I won’t contribute to a permissive culture of disrepect and rudeness.

I welcome communication. I even welcome disagreement. But I won’t permit disrepect.

I hope you won’t either.

Please help me create a culture of kindness. It requires more than your kindness. It requires your intolerance of unkindness.

We are capable of doing better.

I am holding myself to a higher standard. I’m holding the people in my life to a higher standard. That means I’m holding you to a higher standard.

Much love and respect.

~ Elizabeth