Friday, May 4, 2007

On Tolerance

Tolerance is a tricky thing. Many times tolerance I think is seen as being equivalent to condoning. I don't exactly see it this way. Being in an inter-cultural/religious marriage I have learned that tolerance is more about respecting that others come from different places and experiences than we do and that this affects their world view. My life would be very difficult if I did not respect certain aspects of my husband's culture. In fact, for the first 8 or so years of our marriage I didn't tolerate the differences very well. As a result, things weren't always very pleasant. In being rigid about the way things should be, when they weren't, I created a lot of stress for myself and tension between his family and myself. I also missed some golden opportunities to open my mind and to get to know some pretty amazing people. I don't necessarily condone certain lifestyles, but I do tolerate them. Lack of tolerance leads to hatred and ultimately keeps the intolerant person from growing and learning.

I almost hesitate to say this, but what sparked this line of thought was an online article I read railing against a certain religious group, labeling it a cult. It always troubles me when I read these things. I happen to know a number of people affiliated with this particular religion, and have found every single one of them to be kind, caring and deeply devoted to their families. In other words, they are good people. Should they be vilified simply because they believe something different from mainstream Protestant religions?

O.K. I'm just going to say it: Dogmatic thinking scares the pants off me!! I don't care who is being dogmatic; Christian, Muslim, Educator, Politician When one person claims to have "THE" answer, and that every person who does not believe exactly as he/she does is evil, it is scary. I, personally, do not think it was God's intent to have us all live and think exactly alike. I think he realized that the highest calling for any human being is to be a good citizen. That requires that we be respectful of others, even when we don't agree with them.

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