I’ve been thinking a lot about intolerance lately. There’s a lot of it out there. Including my own.
I worry a lot about my kids, especially my teenage daughter. When I listen to news reports, especially when it comes to things like the news coverage of the Trayvon Martin case last summer and the protests and riots in Missouri this summer.
I saw on the news today that several new hashtags are being spread around out there. One is #Ihadthetalk…a hashtag that describes the need for black parents to teach their teenage kids how to respond when a cop pulls them over or approaches them in a public place. They reported it like this talk is a shameful thing for parents to have to do.
Teaching respect for authority has become a shameful thing.
What is this teaching my children about tolerance? About respect and morality? What am I teaching them by responding passionately to the things I hear? Am I helping them face the world with honesty as they prepare to go out into it alone? Or am I making it so frightening that they will struggle to find their own independence?
I have four kids. Two, boys, are adults now and living on their own. One was married last year and is expecting his first child next month. I think I’ve mentioned that before. And then I have a fifteen year old daughter and another son who turned seven this past May.
What kind of a world am I sending them out into?
Intolerance comes in many, many forms.
Racial intolerance is something my family has dealt with in the past. Not so much my husband and I, but our son has for reasons I don’t suppose I need to go into here. That is my son’s story to tell. But it frightens me when I hear what he, and, indirectly, his wife, have faced and when I realize that this is the world my granddaughter is about to come into. Will she have to watch her father discriminated against? Will she be?
Fat shaming, another form of intolerance, is something I have dealt with. I’m not comparing it to racial discrimination, mind you, but there is nothing about any form of intolerance that is fun to face. Like walking through the mall with my husband and small children, feeling real good wearing jeans for the first time since high school, when two men walked pass me and oinked.
And then there’s diabetes.
Those of you who have read my blog before know I hate the blame game that some in the diabetes community play. I know it comes from fear, but maybe that’s what makes me so angry about it. Because the truth is, most intolerance comes from fear. It comes from people facing a common future and making themselves believe that if they act differently, if they look differently, if they feel differently, they won’t have to suffer the same consequences as someone who acts, looks, or feels differently from them.
But, I’m ashamed to admit, that I, too, have my own intolerances.
I’m intolerant of doctors who see a little weight gain and automatically assume it is noncompliance to dietary and exercise instructions.
I’m intolerant of the dietician who refuses to believe that an overweight diabetic doesn’t sit around eating hamburgers and french fries all day.
I’m intolerant of the doctor who said she couldn’t start me on insulin because I would gain weight even though my sugars were consistently in the 250-300 range.
I’m intolerant of the type 1 who admitted he disliked all type 2s because they could cure their diabetes if they were only compliant with doctor’s orders, diet, and exercise.
I’m intolerant of those who say you aren’t a true diabetic if you can control your disease with only diet and exercise.
I’m intolerant of those who say ‘If you controlled your sugars like you’re supposed to, you wouldn’t have complications.’
I’m intolerant of those who say fat diabetics brought this condition on themselves because of their lazy, self-indulgent habits.
I’m intolerant of those who claim that the only diet that a diabetic should eat is a low carb diet.
I’m intolerant of the word ‘noncompliance’.
I’m intolerant of immature jerks who think I don’t notice when they laugh at me behind my back.
They say the first step to overcoming your addictions is to admit you have a problem. Maybe if I admit my intolerances, I will find a way to make things better not only for myself, but for my children and their children.
I shutter to think that I might have passed this condition on to one of my children. It’s a fear I know many in the diabetes community share. For me this fear is not just restricted to how their lives will be affected by the condition itself. Health is a precarious thing. My oldest child has already suffered the effects of leukemia. What a nightmare to see your child go through something so horrific…especially when he was so young that he thought the only way to prove his independence and masculinity was to hide the worst of it from those who love him the most. So, I’ve already been there as far as life changing health conditions go.
My fear is not just their health. But the stigma that comes with this condition.
I am an obese woman. My husband is an overweight man. Our children are within a healthy weight range now, but there’s nothing to guarantee that the obesity gene won’t kick in and cause them to become overweight or even obese. That, coupled with a diagnosis of diabetes, and the current attitude toward fat diabetics…its not a fate I would wish on my worst enemy, let alone my precious, beautiful, hardworking children.
There is a lot of intolerance in the world. Including my own.
And this is why we cannot stop fighting to change our own attitudes…maybe then we can change the world.