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When Did We Become So Intolerant

The other day I was making a left out of the Starbucks parking lot. I let one car pass and started to go when I noticed there was a car right behind it. I stopped and waved as both an apology and to let her know I saw her. The woman’s response was to angrily wave her arms and yell at me. Why?

She never had to stop, there were no screeching tires or slamming on of the brakes, she didn’t even have to slow her car. I had pulled out into the right hand lane, but stopped immediately when I saw her coming. And I thought, when did we all become so intolerant?

I’m not the best driver in the world, but I’m not the worst either. Sometimes I’m distracted. Aren’t we all? We have kids in the car, the radio grabs our attention, our minds drift to work, our writing, or what to make for dinner. We all make mistakes, we all move too fast or hesitate too long. We all do those things. So why can’t we make an effort to give each other more breaks?

When an author submits a manuscript with a typo on the first page why do we feel its acceptable to mock her or reject with an angry edge? I don’t know about you, but I make mistakes all the time. Just ask the grammar police. I’m constantly getting emails about blog errors. Half the time I ignore them.

Sometimes people are lazy and careless, but I like to think that more often they are unsure or haven’t yet learned the rules. Or, they simply make mistakes. Eventually they’ll do the research necessary to query properly. Until then, maybe we can take the time to teach instead of harangue.

I’ve been guilty of intolerance plenty of times. I’ve been the one to wave my arms and shout angrily, I’ve written diatribes on following query rules, but in truth, most of the time, I work hard to give people a break. From now on, I think I’m going to be working even a little harder.

Category: Blog

13 comments

  1. Love this and how very true. Intolerance is running amok and old, saying has fallen to the wayside. “Never judge a book by its cover.” If we simply applied this old adage, or even another favorite old one, “never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their moccasins” every day, I think the world would be a better place.

    I still get perplexed at the utter despair some find at obtaining a 2-3 star review. Not every book is going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Lord knows I’ve read many that had rave reviews that I just didn’t get. Heck I just got one. I felt so bad. The reviewer kept saying, “I’m sorry, but I just didn’t like it.” She ended again with “I’m sorry.” No, no… if it was an honest review, DON’T apologize. She wasn’t ugly in her review. No personal strikes, she simply didn’t like the story. I almost replied, to never apologize for an honest review. Life’s too short to read bad books. Still thinking on it. On one hand, its normally best for authors to not reply–but I felt so bad she thought she needed to apologize.

    By the way Jessica, I’d emailed with someone I work with who told me they were at a con you mentioned being at. I replied, “Oh wow! Jessica Faust is there. Would so love to meet her as I’ve heard raves from Kate about her.” Well, the next day Susan emailed back and said it was hilarious, she read my email (via her phone) sitting next to you!

    Ha, small world after all.

    Keep the great blog entries coming. I don’t always reply to all, but I do read them.

    Happy Reading!

  2. I think much of the time, we don’t really credit the people who annoy us with full and equal humanity. We don’t consider that the person who cut us off might have a screaming kid in the car, a critical appointment they’re running late for, a crisis at home, an elderly parent in the passenger seat demanding attention – everyone has something. When I was a kid, and I felt the sting of injury, anger or injustice, my mother would tell me to “offer it up to God.” It makes a little spiritual exercise of it. Patience isn’t born, it’s grown.

  3. I read an interesting article in the newspaper the other day that blamed a lot of our nation’s stress and intolerance on the divisiveness of our current political climate. There’s a lot to be said for just turning off the nightly news until after the election, but road rage was one of the issues the author addressed. Drive carefully!

  4. I say the same thing all the time!!! I always wave and mouth, “sorry-sorry…” if it was my fault, and still people seem to have so much rage pent up that they’re screaming in their cars. To a lesser extent, I’ll occasionally nod, smile or say hello to a stranger and get a blank stare in return. Most of the time I’ll mutter “….or not….”

    I thought we were all in this together.

  5. I couldn’t agree with you more. What happened to just plain civility and politeness? On the other hand, it does give writers fodder for characters. Watch out folks. You could land in a book!

  6. I really, really feel like I’m encompassing my grandmother now, but another so true something , easy to do and often not done, “slow down to smell the roses.” (might be stop, but I think slow down in this day and age is more appropriate)

  7. I started reading this and mentally visualising it when I realised I had to switch the cars to the other side of the road and that was just too much for my brain to compute. Let’s just leave it at ‘there was an intersection incident’.

    Jessica, I can’t believe you get emails from the grammar police reading your blog! I could understand pointing typos that inadvertently change the meaning/context but otherwise… wowzers.

    I really don’t like the way the world is changing to be so intolerant. Where’s the ‘innocent until proven guilty’? People now seem to assume the worst, that the intent was to cause them grief, not that it was inadvertent, an accident, misinterpreted etc.

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