Monday, February 10, 2014

The New Virtue

I am an intolerant person.

At least, I aspire to be intolerant. Far too often, though, I find myself embracing tolerance as an easier route than the one laid out by my God. He told me I need to be loving, but that is so much harder. Love cares enough to confront; love cares enough to correct. Tolerance, on the other hand, denies responsibility and relationship. Tolerance says, "Whatever. Not my problem, Jack."

I'm not sure exactly when our society began to view tolerance as a virtue -- and not just any old virtue, either, but the supreme virtue. Ignoring the ancient wisdom inherent in songs that proclaimed, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love," we began urging one another to be more tolerant. Tolerance was held up as the balm that would cure our nation of all sorts of dysfunction. TOLERANCE headlines motivational posters in our public schools and has become the battle cry of millions of malcontents.

I agree that we need to teach our children that hatred and bigotry are poor choices. But before offering up tolerance as the preferred alternative, shouldn't we ask ourselves what tolerance really means? Is it a synonym for love? Or is it, in fact, the exact opposite of love? Is it loving for a mother to tolerate poor hygiene and bad manners in her children, for example?

Take a moment to look up the dictionary definition of tolerate. Then ask yourself what sorts of things you do (and don't) tolerate. How do you feel about those things? Now ask yourself . . . would you rather be loved, or tolerated?

Happy Valentine's Day!

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