How to Deal with Intolerable People


I like order, discipline, and good etiquettes. Consequently, I find it hard to tolerate people who have no sense of logical order, people who have no underlying principle governing their actions, or people with no sense of civility. It is worst when all these undesirable gems are combined in one person; which so is often the case when you are living in a busy city like New Delhi. Ethical living is really not the priority, as to survival is. And you cannot blame that on anyone. If you are one amongst the handful of oddballs like me, only you and you alone, are to be blamed for losing your calm over it. But this is not say, ‘Hey, look at me. I am perfect. Follow my lead’. The fact that I find people different than me intolerable should attest how imperfect I am. It is a sign of immaturity – to be not able to comprehend or accept diversity. And that is something I struggle on a day to day basis.

But then again, it is safe to say, humanity has evolved to be really sensitive about its surroundings. And so, yes, I lose my cool every time someone is not punctual, or when someone has an extremely low attention span and I have to repeat myself again and again over mindless things. I mean, how hard is it to hold a ten-minute conversation? I also lose my cool when people have no sense of etiquette at all. I mean, did you just step out of a cave? But sadly, at the end of the day, it ‘I’ and ‘I’ alone who is to be blamed for losing my cool over it. I can’t change the way people are. And so, it is ‘I’ who is a fool if I let that upset me. I recognized, it is not people who needs a fixing, but me. I need to be more tolerant.

I shared this little dilemma of mine to a friend, and he responded in a similar vein, “You are running low on endurance bro, have you prayed about it?”. Well, no, I said. And hesitantly admitted my wrong. I was both ashamed and thankful that day. It is one thing to know about your weakness, and another thing to be made aware of it in a spiritually intimate fashion. The later happened that day.

Soon after, I started praying about it. The more I prayed, the more I felt convicted of all the wrong decisions I had taken in life, thus far. And how easily, I gave up on people and on things, and most importantly, on myself. But praying alone soon started to faze me out. I needed some concrete truth to back up my belief. And so, I started to flip and contemplate over the scriptures; with the intention to find something worth learning from, regarding, how to deal with intolerable people. But to my amazement, I found none. I thought, either I am not digging right, or the Bible is silent over it. I was irritated. Then a thought struck me – who are you to tolerate anyone? I laughed. What a cosmic joke. But there is a certain truth to it, who am I to tolerate anyone? And how egoistic is to say, God teach me ways to tolerate other people. I am subconsciously admitting, and making God admit, that I am better than other people; and so, I need ways to tolerate these supposedly inferior people I am surrounded with. How can the scriptures ever give me an instruction for that? Heck no.

God does not want you to tolerate other people. He wants you to love them. Tolerance on the other hand is void of love. Where there is love, there is no tolerance; there is cooperation. This takes us back to Christ’s great commandment – love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And from there flows the fulfilment of the other side of this commandment, i.e. love your neighbour as yourself.

And so, dear reader, here is a piece of truth that I wanted to share with you. Though, it is something that I successfully fail to live up to everyday, but I believe, in its practice, I am also being renewed daily, into the new being that Christ holds for me. The truth is elementary. You are nobody to tolerate people, and people on the other hand are also nobody to tolerate you. The truth is this, love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. The love of God will give you the love you need to lovingly cooperate with people you find intolerable. Because, people are people, and you and I are one amongst it. The answer does not lie in us. The answer lies with God, and with God alone.