Tolerance is not indifference, but a generous regard and even provision for those who differ from us on points we deeply care about. To support tolerance-- which is not the same thing as lacking intolerance-- more is required than just a lack of certainty concerning differences at issue. We must also care about people. Genuine tolerance itself must be based upon assured knowledge of what is real and what is right. And it always is. It is not a "leap of faith." Tolerance is not the lack of something, but the expression of a positive vision of what is good and right, a vision taken to be solidly grounded in knowledge of how things really are. It has often been considered knowledge that all human beings are equally loved by God, and the call to tolerance was based on that knowledge. It was this type of vision, regarded as knowledge, that led to the abolition of slavery and legal segregation, for example. Such a vision, held as knowledge of how things really are, undergirds the possibility of a neighbor love that comes from the heart and reaches across all human differences. --Dallas Willard, Knowing Christ Today

I have been musing over this definition of tolerance since I first read it several weeks ago. It is a lofty one.

Do you consider yourself a tolerant person? Do you cultivate "a generous regard and even provision for those who differ from us on points we deeply care about?" Do you, really?

If-- like me-- you don't always, but wish you did, how would your speech, actions and habits of thought change?


Mary-LUE said...

I'm thinking... I'll be back when I've thought about it a little longer.

Beck said...

I don't know.
Isn't that a great answer?
I am, I guess, a "tolerant" person - my toleration mainly takes the form of not caring what other people do, which I suspect is largely a negative virtue.
But I find that my ability to tolerate people with severly different belief systems - vegans, let's say - fractures upon actual contact with them. So my "generous regard" is perhaps only in my own mind.

anymommy said...

I think I do *if I already love the person in question for other reasons.* Which is easy I suppose. Hmmmm. And that leaves me with maybe I don't.

RonMossad said...

Tolerance breeds intolerance? How can this be?

Historically, the indecent minority has only been able to succeed due to the indifference of the decent majority. Understanding other cultures and peoples is a wonderful approach to life, but enabling intolerant cultures (that seek to restrict our own freedoms) is where we must draw the line.

Peter Pan said...

I thought that tolerance meant you tolerate something, even if you don't like it. You know, not making people feel out of place or downtrodden for being themselves. It has nothing to do with embracing anyone or anything with open arms.

The definition presented here is clearly designed to exploit what we, as a society, have been taught is just and necessary, in order to obligate us within our own minds to love the people we currently tolerate.

It's a noble goal, but the means of achieving it are dubious, if not delusional.

In my eyes, the end does not justify the means.

Veronica Mitchell said...

I tell myself that every person is made in the image of God. That is not an empty metaphor. It means that if I am to love and know God, I must learn to recognize him in the faces of people with whom I have profound disagreements. If I cannot do that, then when I meet the real God, he will be a stranger to me.

I do not live this out well, but I genuinely try.