Over the Christmas holiday, I watched an entire family ignore one of their family members. This young man sat on the couch for most of the day, quietly watching the other family members hug and talk to one another. He sat there for hours without any interaction. In the past, this family has justified their treatment of this relative by saying no one likes him. He's weird. He's different. He doesn't fit in with the family. He's always been strange. They end their conversation with the phrase, "It's so sad." I guess that's the one thing on which we all agree. It is so sad. It's so sad seeing someone who has been through a lot of trauma get treated cruelly by his family.
I've tried giving them the benefit of the doubt. I've tried telling myself that maybe they've forgotten that holidays bring back memories of dead relatives, and they didn't realize he was feeling sad and wishing he could celebrate with his father one more time. Or perhaps they didn't take time to consider he was looking forward to seeing his family and having a warm, happy experience.
But should those things really matter? Doesn't every human being deserve to be spoken to politely and shown warmth over the holidays from their family members? Especially from family members who complain loudly about the intolerance of the future President Trump?
I'm not sure this family's definition of tolerance matches my own. However, there is one thing I'm sure about. Tolerance begins at home, and it starts with being kind to family members, even those who think and act differently than the rest of their family. Kindness trumps hate everywhere, even at home.