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Laws alone cannot secure freedom of expression;
in order that every man present his views without penalty
there must be a spirit of tolerance in the entire population.
Albert Einstein

I’m not like you. We come from different places, we tell different stories, our humour is different, as is our spelling. We don’t look the same, smell the same, believe the same things or even eat the same meals. We’re different. Now what?

That question never goes away. The above litany is always true. It’s true, no matter who we are, where we live or who we work/play with. It’s true, regardless who we compare ourselves to. We’re different. So?

The differences in skin colour, looks, interests, wealth, intelligence, politics and religion, and so on and so on… ad nauseam, are easily used to build barriers. Anyone can do it. No education or skill required. The more ignorance, the better. Obstacles and barriers, chasms and canyons, created while we wait in growing fear.

To revel in diversity requires effort. The recipe is simple. Take one part education and mix thoroughly  with another part humour. Simmer slowly, don’t allow to boil… and tolerance rises.

When confronted face to face, if we blink… we lose, when we wink… we win.

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The fleas were appalling,
but the honour was great.
Laurie R. King

We demonstrate our respect and gratitude in a variety of ways, from a simple phrase of thanks, to elaborate gifts and celebrations. Our depth of respect and personal resources, determines the quality of our gift.

In turn, we accept gifts and honours with a critical eye, weighing each in turn against personal and private measures. The honour we feel we’ve been bestowed, is determined by our hidden valuations.

Which is the greater honour? To be invited out to dinner, or to be invited into a home to eat? The answers will vary according to taste…

The question is not… where would you rather eat? Or even… which serves the better meal? The question is… Which, according to the giver, bestows the greater honour?

To feel slighted, when only honour was intended, is tragedy masquerading as comedy.

What greater social error can we make, than to misjudge those who do us honour? The gifted bottle of wine, regardless of the vintage, is still a gift. The surprise party, still a gathering of friends. And the public embarrassing praise, still praise.

Sometimes sincere intent is the reality, and uncompromising perception, the problem.

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Laughter is the shortest distance
between two people.
Victor Borge

Laughter is more intimately contagious than a yawn. A child’s bright laughter in a crowd ignites of a ripple of response. Turned heads, smiles and nods of acknowledgement from strangers to parents.

In a street where wordless unconnected strangers brush closer than lovers embrace. We find ourselves laughing together, when a street corner magician pulls grins from an empty face.

Sitting at a play or a show, we’re alone in the dark, until we’re joined in the laughter of those around us. Even if only for a short time, we’ve become part of a joyous, though invisible, community.

In laughter we see a reflection of what’s inside each other. If we laugh at the same thing then perhaps, just perhaps, we’re not alone. There’s someone else like us. At least like us enough, to see the same humour in something outside of ourselves.

Nothing is more effective at intestinal butterfly dispersal, than a roar of laughter from the audience. If they’re laughing they’re listening. If they’re listening then they’re learning.

Want to measure how close a relationship? How strong a team? How healthy a culture? Count the laughs.

Birds of a feather, laugh together

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To escape criticism –
do nothing,
say nothing,
be nothing.
Elbert Hubbard

Pity the poor critic, in our imperfect world, their life is filled with work.

Don’t dare to try and help them, by building something new.
You’ll only increase their woes, by attracting them to you.

And their work is unappreciated, though flawless through and through.
Their only goal? Perfection! And they’ll achieve it when you’re through.

No matter what you build, be it big or huge or small,
it’s filled with imperfections, and the critic finds them all.

Ignoring them is difficult, they’re fast and mean and tiny.
No matter how well intentioned, their words are dark and spiny.

They stick in cracks in ego, they pull down self esteem.
They weaken built up confidence, and disrupt the strongest team.

Avoiding them is easy, under camouflage is best,
crawl inside a deep dark hole and shhh…say nothing – do nothing – that’ll put ’em to the test!

Oh and one more thing? They’ll never like this little pithy ditty…
my, my, my… what a dreadful, awful, pity!

Criticism like lightning, is a fact of life, rise above others and it’ll strike.

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If you can make a man laugh,
you can make him think
and make him like and believe you.
Alfred E. Smith

Humour is our physical and emotional response to the perverse incongruities of life. Without a sense of humour, we stumble from cosmic incident to comic accident, never seeing the connection. Our belly laughs, are wry detectors.

We laugh at the indignities that befall us, because the alternatives are too depressing.

We chuckle at both the small and large misfortunes ensnaring us, because we have no other choice.

Despite our best laid plans, life sometimes just happens to us. The knack of seeing the hidden irony is a precious gift.

Humour doesn’t come easy. Especially when the humour is in our follies and foibles. To laugh at ourselves is to acknowledge our shared, and all too common, weakness. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who, with the dual, and never dull, scalpels of tact and gentleness expose the humours within.

With every burst of laughter there’s the opportunity to reflect on what we’ve found out.

Our sense of humour is a symptom of our intelligence. Once we laugh, we know enough to pay attention.

When your audience is laughing, they’re listening.

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What makes enemies of people,
if not the eagerness,
the passion for the same thing.
Bernard Berenson

We are drawn asunder and pulled together by the things we both hold dear. Peace and security, a land to live upon and to rest in peace beneath, these are our common hopes and dreams.

We’re divided by memories of injustices long past. In sacred remembrance we create new memorials to fuel the future feud of children aged before their time. A plague of amnesia would allow us to start afresh. A divine gift of tabula rasa for those as yet unborn.

Our justice is swift for we live in the land of the fair. We demand an eye for an eye, until we crawl on all fours in the land of the blind.

We rightfully give praise to those who fall in the clash of arms, yet the solutions must lie beyond the battle circle. When we no longer care who lives or dies, then death can no longer threaten the living.

Conflict can reach the point where the solution is either genocide or compromise. Civilized thought enables one and denies the other.

The lands we fight over are more pleasant if stood upon, than lain beneath.

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A riot
is the language of the unheard.
Martin Luther King Jr

From when we first arrive and announce ourselves with a wail, until we gasp our last words in leaving… being heard is important to us. “I am here! Hear me!”

To ignore someone, is to pretend they don’t exist.
To be someone, is to exist… and resent the insinuation that we don’t.
(more…)

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