Friday, July 01, 2005

Tolerance

Is that word starting to irritate you just a tiny bit? The misplaced empowerment put on this word makes me cringe. This concept is being touted as the new “standard” that we are to work towards as responsible world citizens. Okay, I’ll play. Let’s try that word out in a few situations:

I will tolerate my children.
I desire to tolerate my husband.
Wouldn’t it be great if I could invite my closest friends over and we could tolerate each other.
I look forward to going to work on Monday and tolerating my colleagues.
All those poor people in Africa with AIDS, how I long to tolerate them.
I wish we could have a world leader who was a really strong tolerator.

Hmmm. It seems to lack a certain something, doesn’t it? I understand the concept of not standing in judgment of those who are different than I am, but “tolerance” is a very weak concept and a totally inadequate way of combating prejudice. Tolerance boils down to one thing: avoidance.

Have you ever observed tolerant parents or a tolerant elementary school teacher? The children are allowed to do whatever they want, but not one harsh word is spoken, not one judgment made on the appropriateness of the behaviour and nothing said about the ramifications of all this lack of self-control and discipline. I will readily admit that it is easier to avoid conflict than to tackle issues head on, but conflict is not the “bad boy” it has been made out to be.

You will agree with me that there is evil and that there is good in this world – many of our classic stories and movies revolve around the conflict between these two forces. Conflict is not a bad thing, in fact it is inevitable in this world, so let us stop pointing at conflict as being the source of the problem, and realize that it is the lack of generosity and love in our hearts that makes us the selfish, critical, small-minded bigots we adamantly insist we are not. Tolerance is a form of passivity and a lack of action that has never accomplished anything great in this world. In fact, it has only served to aid the corruption and decay of more than one civilisation.

There is a way to bring balance to this world and it is much more effective than tolerance, but it not an easy road. It requires humility, sacrifice, consistency, discipline, and just plain old hard work. It is called "unconditional love." This love does not ignore others or turn a blind eye – it walks right up to someone and wants to be their friend, no matter how different they are. This lover of all that is right does not stand by and sigh as multiple differing opinions are voiced, she stands up for the truth but refuses to add anything (her opinion or cultural bias) to it. The man who loves justice will not insist that governments and business leaders do something about these terrible social problems – he will go out at his own expense and begin to help people one at a time.

Tolerance is cheap – it costs you nothing, it requires nothing, and in that way, has become an easy, albeit ineffective, mantra to promote faux harmony.

If you want the real stuff…get off the sidelines and into the thick of things. The world needs those who would love other people more than they love their own comfortable lack of conflict.

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