Acceptance of DifferencePublished December 31, 2001 in The Post-Standard.
By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer
When Myrnie asked: "Speak to us of tolerance, Master," He said:
"Tolerance is the virtue of accepting difference. In mind and in body, running makes a difference that we must learn to tolerate, and in turn, teach our world to tolerate."
"Runners train to tolerate the pain of intense workouts as we seek the greater prize of winning the race. We tolerate the loneliness of the long distance run as we prepare to complete a marathon. We tolerate the cold and the heat, rather than lounge in the comforts of motionless inertia."
"In our daily lives, we tolerate the ignorance of commoners, they who view our pursuit of fitness as a futile eccentricity in a sedentary society. We tolerate the ridicule of onlookers as we parade the most colorful space-age micro-fiber fashion. We tolerate the mockery of culinary skeptics as we indulge on a high-carbohydrate diet."
"And as we pursue our daily fix of panting and pounding, we tolerate the arrogance of many dog owners who fail in their basic responsibility. We tolerate the civic failure of homeowners who fail to clear their sidewalks of the hazards of winter, then we tolerate the blindness of those drivers who refuse to share the road."
Then Myrnie inquired, "When is tolerance a two-way street, Master?" He replied:
"As I teach you to tolerate the differences within you and around you, I fail to find a method to bring tolerance back towards you. True, runners are different, and through difference we achieve happiness. Yet, is it not that same happiness and confidence that make us the objects of envy?"
"While 'tolerance' is the acceptance of difference, so is 'acceptance' the understanding of difference. Rather than seeking the tolerance of those who matter little, seek the acceptance of those who matter the most."
"Woe to the spouse who tolerates a running partner, instead of accepting and embracing the pursuit. Woe to the children who view running as a wrecker of homes and robber of affection, for they fail to partake in the beauty of the race."
And He proceeded:
"Just as tolerance is a virtue of the loving heart, so must intolerance become the duty of the caring mind. Show intolerance to cheaters who cut the course, for they bring disgrace onto running. Show intolerance to those who pronounce profanity, for their mouths proclaim hatred.
"Show intolerance towards coaches and parents who endanger the welfare of children by permitting them to compete injured, for they rob youth of its innocence. Show intolerance to officials who tolerate mediocrity, for they promote failure."
"Show intolerance to hypocrites who exploit running to further their causes. Show intolerance to directors who fail to provide the basic requirements in races. Show intolerance to runners who, through their intolerance, bring shame to all of us."
Then He ran into the New Year, to rejoice in the gifts of winter.
Kamal Jabbour borrows the style of Gibran Kahlil Gibran in celebration of their common heritage. Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created TrackMeets.com, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at email@example.com.
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