Tolerance. Oh how I hate that word. Out of all the words ever, it’s the worst. We use and abuse it when speaking in reference to our fellow man. We hide behind it. Tolerance has become a fortress to hide in, to hide our shame and disgust. Tolerance is divisive, exclusionary, a front with an upkeep that is infinitely exhausting.
Generally in any argument where tolerance is the issue, both sides come off looking like war mongering fools. I speak from experience.
We speak of tolerance when we can’t make the leap of accepting a person or group of people for who they are. Instead of accepting and loving, instead of seeking to build people up or strengthening relationships, we merely seek to tolerate each other.
Like a bitter medicine that has no power to affect a cure, we swallow while holding our noses, trying not to gag.
How did we get here, to this place, right now?
Does anyone else but me feel stuck? Do you feel like there’s no way past this?
I do. I feel stuck, ashamed, and even a little afraid.
I want so much to move past tolerance, into something better, deeper, meaningful. I want to be free to say what is in my heart without fear of excluding any of the people in my life – because I truly love them. Because I truly appreciate their friendship. Because they are important. But I really don’t know how to do that.
There’s got to be a better way than just tolerating each other. The pat answer, the “Sunday School” answer is that we should love each other regardless and unconditionally. That we should respect each other, protect each other even if we disagree. That instead of tearing each other apart, we should build each other up. I haven’t seen much of that lately, have you?
I’ve said this a hundred times, and I’ve not seen or heard anything yet to contradict it – we all think we are right, that we have the answer, that our way is the best. We think we’re the rightest, and that our rightness gives us the right hold each other at arms length when we should be setting our arguments aside and embracing each other simply because we’re all just people, and people – we need each other.
Another thing I’ve said a hundred times, and still mean it – God doesn’t need our help as much as we think He does. Nothing in creation is going to tear down what He is building – not me, not you, not the forces of evil, not anything that society can come up with. What God wants from me, and you, is to show love, grace and mercy to everyone, regardless. He has the power to change human hearts. With or without us – but He loves using how messed up we are, how weak we are, to show how strong He is. Let Him be strong in your weakness, and watch Him change the world!
This is not going to go away. Not until we can get over ourselves, our fears, our misconceptions and preconceived notions of just what is what and instead of taking stands against people, we stand up for people.
You are all my people – and I love you all. I, and you, are a work in progress. I’m not perfect. Neither are you. We have a long way to go – but I am willing to be a peacemaker. I am willing to stand in the gap and help in any way I can. Sometimes it takes one person taking a single, scary, hesitant step forward.
Who will take that step with me?