The underbelly and the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity

I recently read an Alain de Botton opinion which was sent to me by a friend for my reading pleasure. Alain de Botton is the author of the novel “The Course of Love,” and an excellent writer/thinker.

In his opinion “Why we marry the wrong person,” Botton praised the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity and he also said that we should get used to other people’s craziness, learning to accommodate their “wrongness,” striving to always adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kind perspective of ourselves and others.

It sounds to me like a perfect recipe for success in personal relationships, and it also sounds like good advice when it comes to other people’s vices, and what my fellow columnist Arien Rasmijn of Den Cayente calls the Underbelly.

Rasmijn defines the Underbelly/Onderbuik as: Drugs, corruption, black money, weapons, illegal prostitution, the abuse of women and children, things that belong in the dark, often associated with violence and sex, which somehow escape law enforcement and control, and make up the Dark Side of Humanity.

When I read de Botton’s opinion, it resonated with me, especially when I reviewed last week’s newspapers. I was away, and in my absence you enjoyed a few juicy scandals, befitting any British or American supermarket tabloids. The episode which stood out was the one involving a respectable member of our community who collided with, let’s call her a Call Girl, at a sleazy bar, resulting in a sensational stabbing in a massage parlor and a tragic death.

The Police gave us the usual biased, xenophobic info. It was a Chinese prostitute they said, which immediately connected with all our preconceived notions and prejudices. In general, it is a demeaning and shameful practice, to call a person by his/her nationality, because we then instantly stereotype and dehumanize him/her. Chinese?  She must eat everything that moves, and she doesn’t understand a word of English, probably a crazy foreigner with a mean streak. Prostitute? Definitely a fallen woman and a dope addict. So you see we already judged her before being investigated by virtue of her profession and nationality, as reported by the Police.

But that’s not all I want to say. I want to advocate compassion because people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. We all have our demons, and we cope with our feelings of loneliness and emptiness differently.  Don Quixote, blinded by love, calls a simple farm girl Dolcinea, and treats her like royalty.  Sure, he lost him mind a bit, but it was his way of adding excitement to his life, and dealing with his frustrations and disappointments. I think we are all entitled to our demons! We cannot always help ourselves. We act out, and in the spirit of “If you’re sleeping with dogs, you wake up with fleas,” shit happens.  Shit hits the fan. These are just consequences, which have nothing to do with morality.

I grew up in a very forgiving era, and I continue to believe that we should be allowed to have an underbelly – I draw the line anything to do with children – we cannot all be politically correct and squeaky clean all the time, it’s just not realistic. We are sometimes dirty. This could have been a love story, and a crime of passion, and you already know that “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

So I feel sorry for family members and friends who are dealing with the aftermath, but you are not alone, we all have skeletons in the closet, and whatever it was, dad never meant to harm of hurt you, he was just dealing with his own imperfections.

Incidentally, in Britain, France or Italy, the Bill Clinton / Monica Lewinsky story would have been the Talk of the Town for two days, in the USA the scandal went on and on for years.

To conclude, the British, French and Italian have the right attitude about sex scandals, they shrug them off as foibles, the weaknesses of human existence. So as Alain de Botton recommended, we should get used to other people’s craziness, learning to accommodate their “wrongness,” and strive to always adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kind perspective of ourselves and others.

Read below, some historic scandals:,28804,1721111_1721210_1906894,00.html#