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The Last Judgment

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When we hear the word, "intolerance," we often tend to think of extreme examples, racial or religious bigots, and sometimes we extend our imagination to include those who do violence to others who are unlike them.

Such examples illustrate the essential qualities of the Beech negative condition: the way in which people prevent themselves from identifying with and recognizing their oneness with others through their judgments of them. You could call it a failure in love, but one of the elements of love, when it is unconditional, is tolerance of difference.

This pattern of response isn't the exclusive property of extreme bigots; it's a condition into which any of us may fall, either on a temporary basis or towards certain groups of people. On one level we can describe the Beech imbalance as an intolerance for any person or behavior which differs from one's own, but if we get more specific we find that intolerance is generated by differences which are threatening.

For example, a woman holds the belief that actors are egotists who make fools out of themselves in public. She may have never wanted to be in the public eye, even in a small way. She may have a deep fear of becoming an object of scrutiny and humiliation.

Often, though, people fear what they desire, and in some corner of this woman's consciousness she might long for the confidence to express herself in a public arena. A convenient way to deal with such conflicts is to bury them beneath a prejudice. She need never confront her own desires. She is safe.

It is safety which we seek when we separate ourselves from others via our judgments. We seek a right-and-wrong world in which we are right, in which we don't have to question our beliefs or behaviors, and in which we especially don't have to go within for deeper self-understanding.

If we do we discover that all judgment is ultimately self-judgment. The woman who dismisses actors dismisses her own desires. An individual who denounces egotists judges and suppresses his own longing to be important. And when we condemn bigots we create for ourselves the false notion that we are ourselves above judgment.

Beech teaches us the true nature of tolerance: that it begins with us. It helps us to learn to accept ourselves just as we are. Like self-love (and directly related to it) our self-acceptance radiates outward and finds no limitations to tolerating and accepting tolerating others.

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