"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Monday, May 10, 2004
The Eleventh Commandment
tol-er-ance Function: noun
1 : capacity to endure pain or hardship : ENDURANCE, FORTITUDE, STAMINA
2 a : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own b : the act of allowing something : TOLERATION
3 : the allowable deviation from a standard; especially : the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension in machining a piece
4 a (1) : the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (as a drug) or a physiological insult with repeated use or exposure [immunological tolerance to a virus] [an addict's increasing tolerance for a drug] (2) : relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor b : the maximum amount of a pesticide residue that may lawfully remain on or in food
5 : Love?
..."Peace and tolerance"..."unconditional love and tolerance"..."kindness and tolerance"...
To listen to the way the world looks at things, it's obvious that "tolerance" is a quality that any decent human being would have. As a matter of fact, when a person does not have tolerance of particular fringe behaviors they are classified as a "bigot" and as "phobic" and full of hate.
But really, does intolerance equal hatred? And should we be tolerant in every case?
I think not, on both counts.
I know that is a very politically incorrect statement. The average westerner is of the opinion that tolerance is akin to the eleventh commandment, and that loving someone means that we must allow them to do whatever they want with or to themselves. Somehow things have also twisted to the point where the tolerance that is demanded of us goes far beyond not stopping deviance, but also includes accepting and even encouraging it!
Sorry. I just can't do it.
Behavior and beliefs, and the people who do them, are not the same thing. In my mind, it is easy to love the one and detest the other.
For example, I knew a man 20 years ago that confessed to me that he was a child molester. I'm sorry, I just can't be tolerant of that. It repulses me. Yet, I can still love that man, even today, though I hate what he did.
Jesus told us that they would know us by our Love. But I don't think that includes handing out "Get Out of Hell Free" cards to active sinners engaged in things the Bible specifically mentions as very, very bad things to do.
If a co-worker can't speak a single sentence without using blatant profanity, should I be tolerant? If a person demands that I accept and encourage their fringe belief, should I be tolerant?
As a Christian, should I claim that Allah and God are one and the same God, when the Bible clearly says no, that isn't so?
As a Christian, should I watch shows like "Will and Grace" and allow them to air in my household?
As a Christian, should I listen to gangsta rap?
As a Christian, should I sacrifice my expressions of faith because those few who have no faith at all may be offended?
The answer to all these questions is, I think, "No."
Now, notice that each of the things I mentioned is a belief or a behavior. I am not advocating hatred towards any person, nor will I. That's the whole point here.
As a Christian, I must be able to separate the person from the action and belief. If that person bows at the feet of Christ in repentance, then those things I detest are washed clean. That person who would remain is the one that I love.
I think that as Christians, we have not taken as active a role in things as we should have, and that now it might possibly be too late. Can you imagine a Hollywood without nudity, profanity, and greed? Can you imagine a time when the mass media will not be trying to out-outrageous (is that a word?) everything that went before?
Can you imagine a world where you, as a Christian with Christian values, would be comfortable?
We were tolerant.
And now we pay for it.
You know where I think the root of this was? And I know this is gonna get me blasted in my email box...
When our country, the United States, was founded, the framers of the country established it as a nation "under God" and set up a constitution guaranteeing freedom for every man.
These are good and noble thoughts. But think about it. If you look at these men, however righteous they were, they had rebelled against their government (England) which is something the Bible not only does not condone, but actually says not to do.
Our Constitution was framed by human minds, and has a human fault that the enemy slipped in.
Two hundred years later, the enemy has used that wrong idea, warped over the years, to corrupt not only our own country but almost the entire world.
Freedom. Two hundred years ago, it meant a freedom to achieve, to grow.
Now, it only means "I'll do whatever I want to do, and I can flaunt it in your face."
The image of freedom is no longer that of a soldier standing guard, his musket at the ready. No, now it is the image of a drag queen in Key West sitting on a roof doing sexual gyrations on the gable to the cheers of the crowds below.
Here in Richmond, Virginia we have actually erected a monument to this warped idea of freedom. I don't think it was originally intended to be such, but that's how it worked out.
In 1995 the Richmond City Council voted, in a very heated debate, to erect a monument honoring Arthur Ashe, a legendary tennis player and groundbreaker for American blacks. Not only was Ashe from Richmond, but his excellence in the sport was gained in spite of the huge cultural barriers that he had to overcome, not the least of which was being forbidden to play at the city's municipal courts because of his race.
A suggestion was made to erect the statue right at those very same courts, which I thought was a great idea. Arthur had stood for overcoming adversity, and having his monument showcased here would have been extremely appropriate, and also would have been an inspiration to other minority tennis players.
But wait, said one member of the council. There is another option.
I mean, we do have a street named Monument Avenue. And it already has Monuments on it. Why don't we put Arthur Ashe there?
Again, well and good, except for the fact that the statues on Monument Avenue were all military in nature, including a preponderance of statues representing Southern Civil Way heroes.
Well then, why don't we put the statue right between the Confederate battle line with its cannons, and the next statue?
It dawned on them that since the city council was now made up primarily of minorities, they could do that. They could put Arthur Ash right there and nobody could stop them.
And they did.
Now, as stupid as it was to do that, to speak out against it is considered in very poor taste. Somehow, it is "hate speech" to say that this was not done properly, this was wrong, this dishonors both Ashe and those who died in several bloody wars. No, we are supposed to celebrate the freedom that allows this, to rejoice in it, to encourage it.
You can have it. I'd rather know right from wrong, thanks.
We tolerate shapes in human beings that would horrify us if we saw them in a horse.
W. R. Inge