“Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.” Robert Green Ingersoll
Writing about divorce from my perspective as well as telling the stories of people (mostly women) whom I’ve met I’m often battered with the opposing view with antagonism instead of understanding. It may be by men who don’t want to acknowledge the part that other men have played in contributing to divorces. It may be by religious people who take an ideological stand against divorce, preferring to generalise situations rather than recognise that each life is unique so that what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. It may even be by happily married couples who believe and state (almost smugly) that they know how to make a marriage work.
“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” Says the Dalai Lama and I agree that we can’t simply expect tolerance if we’re not going to have the same attitude to the other. I have never glorified the state of being divorced. It certainly isn’t a goal to be achieved, a sign of independence or even of feminism. I’m happy for those couples fortunate enough to still be married and wish, as do most divorce people that I too had been blessed with that kind of happiness. I’m relieved to know that there are men who don’t oppress their wives as they take pains to tell me on my blog or otherwise as if theirs is a universal truth and that no man bullies or beats his wife. Even though my own ex husband didn’t ill treat me I can still believe the stories I am told, never feeling the need to defend every husband. As for rigid religious views – I’ve never understood them, never gathered how an institution’s rules can be more important than an individual’s well being. But these religions work for some people and I’m happy for them.
John F Kennedy said, “Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”
I’m content to leave people with their opinions which include a certain dismissive attitude towards divorce or the decision to divorce. Can’t convince them as to the rightness of our decision so let them be. They don’t know any better and their life didn’t have this particular obstacle to overcome.
Perhaps it’s time to write a novel. Zadie Smith, whose novel Swing Time I’m reading says, “Novels are not about showing how people are wrong or right – novels are about trying to swim in a certain mental climate and depict and understand it.”