Walking out of Alumni Hall last Monday, April 5, everyone who came out to listen to Marc Elliot’s “What Makes you Tick” presentation had gained a new perspective of the word “tolerance” – not acceptance, but tolerance.
Marc Elliot has Tourette’s Syndrome. Starting from when he was a child, he spoke about the hardships and persecution that he has endured through the years. Although his presentation was filled with many involuntary movements, or “tics,” he got through his humor-filled presentation with no problems. For the most part, he made light of his heavy situation, which I thought very commendable. He made everyone feel comfortable right from the start.
Before hearing Elliot speak, I’m pretty sure that the majority of the audience had a common understanding of what Tourette’s Syndrome was – compulsive actions, uncontrollable swearing and screaming and other things of that sort. And I’m sure that most of us have seen the “True Life” episode following three people with the disorder. Although that’s a small part of the disease, I don’t think that anyone fully understood the burden or how this disease can actually affect the bearer.
Elliot gave specific examples of the rude things strangers would say to him in public places, including a woman announcing to a busy McDonald’s that he was “retarded,” after explicitly being told that he had Tourette’s Syndrome.
I was shocked. How could someone be so mean, so misunderstanding, but most importantly, so ignorant? I may not know anyone with Tourette’s Syndrome, but what I do know is that it does not translate into mental retardation.
The main message of Elliot’s presentation was to teach and remind us to be tolerant of everyone around us, or in his words, “to live and let live.” To live your life the way you want, and to let others do the same. It’s not that hard.
I think this lesson should be applied to the world. If we all just learn to tolerate, think of the changes that would arise, and not just tolerating people with Tourette’s but people of a different race, religion, and sexual orientation. Hate crimes and racism wouldn’t exist and “everyone would just get along.” I understand this would only happen in a perfect, and unfortunately unrealistic world, but I think that can be changed.
We don’t need to necessarily be best friends with everyone. We just need to be civil.
Tolerate people’s differences even if you aren’t embracing them, and understand that people are the way they are. If it doesn’t directly effect you, keep your comments to yourself.