By Savitree Kaur
I once had a piano tuner that I loved. I loved listening to him play my piano with such intimacy while he tuned it to perfection. He was amazing, and I referred him to others.
I was about to move into the city, and I asked him if he would be willing to drive there to tune my piano. He said, “Yes, I will, but why would you go where there are so many black people?”
If one could hear heartbreak, you would have heard mine on that day.
I didn’t call him back. I lost a good piano tuner. He may not have been negative to me directly, but he might as well have been.
“Now there is a state of mind in which when somebody is negative to you, you do not become equally negative to him or her, you just tolerate it. And in that tolerance there is a very great patience; in that patience there is a great prayer.” -Yogi Bhajan
Arguable as it may be, the piano tuner was a guy who meant well. I believe he was simply (and grossly) misinformed. Had my children been raised differently, for instance, they too could’ve shared his beliefs. Tolerance and acceptance can be a difficult thing, particularly in light of what has been going on in current events. It begs the question, what does it mean to be tolerant and accepting? I think of the relatives of the Charleston Church victims who stood face to face with the shooter and forgave him.
Acceptance does not mean that we accept discriminatory beliefs nor hate crimes. While they are seed to separation and destruction in this world, hating back does not undo, nor prevent, further destruction. In fact, it feeds into and perpetuates it.
Instead, I bless his journey in the same way that I hope that other’s will bless me in my journey with all of my erroneous thoughts and actions, because I am doing the best that I can at this time with the tools and capacities that I currently have. I pray that he will shift. And I pray for continuous shift in me.
Having said that, I choose to invest in businesses and individuals whose values and mission I can put myself behind. It is important to put energy into what we want to grow and away from the opposite. Hating (not tolerating) him would be putting energy into the opposite. So would continuing to do business with him. Blessing him and finding another tuner, to me, is tolerance.
I think of him from time to time, and hold vision for the God in him.
“If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all” -Yogi Bhajan
Savitree Kaur, E-RYT 200 and KRI certified, is co-founder of Urban Yoga Chicago, a Kundalini Yoga, meditation and wellness center in South Evanston, IL. She offers small group classes, private sessions and meditation courses for adults and children. Her strength is in helping individuals customize their meditation practice to serve their highest goals. She is also mom to two beautiful teenaged children. For more on Savitree, see SavitreeKaur.com. For more on the work that she does, see UrbanYogaChicago.org and BlissfulAreWe.com.