10/03/2006

Are You Tolerant?...

I feel bad. I took the bait. A few posts ago, I poked fun at Rep. Mark Foley, the Republican party and their penchant for young boys. That was wrong. I apologize to my vast Republican readership for my words. My personal beliefs require that I work to forgive Mr. Foley for his actions, not kick him while he's down. He obviously has some serious things to work through and I am going to refrain from passing judgment on him.

Thinking about this last night led me to thoughts about how tolerant a person I am. I have always thought of myself as extremely tolerant - tolerant towards people of all races, religions, and sexual orientations. However, the more I thought about this, the more it seemed that saying I'm tolerant is arrogant in and of itself. It implies that people different than me need to be tolerated, that somehow they are a nuisance, like a kid screaming in a restaurant. This is baloney. It should not be necessary to make some concerted effort to accept someone's differences. Acceptance should be automatic, something you do without effort. Saying you are tolerant of some other group or type of person is nothing more than further subjugation of said group or person. The fact is, everyone's fucking different and we should recognize that.

C'mon everybody! Join me! Kum Bay Yah, my lord, Kum Bay Yah...

15 comments:

Amy said...

Wow... that's a good way to look at it. I don't get much time to think that deeply.

Kum Bay Yah

Beth said...

Interesting column and good points. Definitely worth thinking about since I, too, call myself a tolerant person.

BTW, the grammar nerd in me was impressed that you spelled judgment correctly. I really need to get out more ...

Chris said...

Amy- I'm the opposite. I spend TOO much time in deep thought.
Beth- Thanks. I'm a total spelling nerd. I even watch the National Spelling Bee on ESPN if I happen to notice it's on. By the way, I thought the Little Miss Sunshine contest was great!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the spirit of the post, but I think all things worth having take some work. Including tolerance and acceptance.

Chris said...

Phil- Gotta disagree. Do you find it physically strenuous or mentally taxing to be tolerant of someone? If so, in what way? Where does the "work" part come in? My point is that it should be like breathing. It shouldn't require effort. If it DOES require effort, I'd argue you're not fully tolerant because you still feel there is some trait the other person has that needs to be tolerated. I know it's a little circular, but I like to pick apart things that are typically universally accepted (i.e.: tolerance is something you have to work at).

Anonymous said...

Yes it is often physically strenuos and mentally taxing.

If other people's action had no impact on me I might agree with you.

When I send my kid to school he interacts with other children. How those kids react to each other comes, more or less, from how their parents choose to raise and teach them. I may not agree with the manner in which they raise their kids. Their child's behavior may conflict with how I feel a child should behave. This impacts my child directly; from the other child hitting my child to language they may use to the food they eat.

You ever tell a parent to their face that you disagree with how they raise their kids? No. It isn't often done.

I have to tolerate it. I have to accept it. I have to instruct my son not to behave that way.

That is the difference between the abstract notion of tolerance and acceptance and the practical application of tolerance and acceptance in my life.

Anonymous said...

Great discusion topic by the way.

Chris said...

Phil- You have introduced something into the discussion that I hadn't mentioned in my original post. Perhaps I wasn't specific enough. I was talking about tolerance of people that have done you no wrong, but are merely different from you. Sure, if someone wrongs you in some way, you have to actively decide if you will forgive them, not forgive them, punch them in the mouth, etc. If they wrong you badly enough, they may need to be punished in some way. I am not opposed to that.

I stand by what I said previously based on the specific examples I gave. For example, saying you are tolerant of, say, Hindus is arrogant and demeaning towards Hindu people. If one particular Hindu person specifically does something to you that you don't like, obviously, that may or may not require an active response from you. I don't want to split hairs about this. It's just a fucking blog post after all. I just want to be clear about what I meant.

Anonymous said...

To that more specific point, I am in total agreement. If a person has done you no wrong then ones tolerance is arrogant as well as irrelevent.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, Chris, I see where you're going with tolerance being somewhat self righteous, and I think tolerance is an admirable aspiration in the abstract, but where do you draw the line?

I, for example, find it difficult to be tolerant of intolerance. Born again Christians who insist I'm going to hell because I haven't accepted Jesus Christ as my lord and savior haven't done anything to me specifically beyond being fundamentally at odds with everything I believe in, but I have trouble accepting them anyway. I think there's a big difference between saying "I don't like people with blonde hair" and "I don't like people who damn me to hell without even getting to know me." Likewise, I have to WORK at being tolerant of people who think the president's doing a good job.

Are all these people entitled to their own opinion? Of course. Do I wanna invite them out for a beer? Not really. Do I wanna round them all up and send them to die? Fuck no.

Maybe the word tolerance itself is arrogant. Acceptance of people who are merely different from you SHOULD come fairly naturally -- blue eyes, brown eyes, who fucking cares? But when you get into more abstract differences like people's beliefs and actions, I think it gets a lot more complicated.

Perhaps there's a difference between tolerance and open-mindedness.

Beth said...

Totally unrelated ... but I felt I must tell you that a group of female Atlanta bloggers had cocktails this weekend ... and we had a nice chat about how damn hot you look in your recent Skiing post.

Chris said...

Thanks to all for your insights! I love talking about shit like this. It really was nothing more than some random thought that popped into my head, but it's fun to discuss.

As for Beth's comment, you're joking, right? If not, I'm flattered.

Anonymous said...

Your next trip should be to Atlanta Chris. See how strong their Faith is.

Big Orange said...

What's all this Foley biz? I worked in a hospital and a "foley" was the plastic tube you stuck up someone's urethra when they were headed in to surgery or when they couldn't get outta bed.

also, though i know nothing about this, if he's doin' something weird w/lil' boys then there's NO NEED to be tolerant of that. if he's merely GAY, then so what? But if he's hittin on underaged folken, that has nuthin' to do with tolly-rense!

Big Orange said...

Well, yeah, tolerance SHOULD come as naturally as breathing, but then we SHOULD be living in a world of peace, love n' harmony too, and y'all don't see none o' THAT shit happnin' do ya's??