If You Really Want to Know

If you really want to know the man,
Look at what he will tolerate
And what he won’t.

For example, if he claims it’s right
To tolerate everyone,
Be sure to notice
Whether he tolerates
Those who disagree about that.

And if he claims in any other regard
That this or that is intolerable,
Then look at whether
He does such things himself.

You will find a great many
Who readily tolerate
The very woes in this world
That they are the most
Imminently positioned to reform—
Things right in their own wheelhouses—
Right where they can get to them
Better than anybody else on Earth.

I am writing,
Of course,
About the flaws
In their own minds
And in their own habits—
Things they are unwilling to change
At this time.

And wouldn’t it be ironic
If the very reason we have to battle so
Concerning the right attitude about “tolerance”
Is because this world is so filled with people
Who are so permissively tolerant of
So many bad behaviors
Of their own?

Are they not ultimately calling for us
To sign a truce with their own self-tolerance,
Rather than to poke and prod them until
They finally do the right thing
And reform themselves?

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