Posts Tagged ‘tolerance’

So here’s the thing. I love cartooning. It is probably my favorite art form. I know it’s not very high brow, but the combination of words and pictures are a dynamic duo on the path to understanding and if there’s anything we need right now, it’s understanding. Sadly it’s doubtful that will happen given the level of discourse in the U.S. and I suspect the same could be said throughout the world. Simply put, disagreement is portrayed as hate, and it is easier to vilify than to have a conversation. This has come to a head after the presidential election, but make no mistake about it, this has been brewing for decades and it is thoroughly unacceptable.

The following cartoons are the way I vented. The first five are a poem of sorts. The other five continue the thought. They should not be seen as pro either candidate because this is SOOO not about politics. The two candidates selected by the voters show the depths to which we have fallen as a nation. This is about the level of discourse in our nation. There was a time when people could disagree profoundly and still hold each other in some degree of respect. That is what I would love to see restored. It’s not too late, but it soon will be.

Disagree with me, it’s okay, I still love you and that’s pretty much the key to the whole argument.

I’ve heard it said on many occasions, “Words Mean Things.” It’s 100 percent true. I’ve also heard it said that “He who controls the language controls the argument,” which may be even more true. In our politically correct era, this has been taken to ridiculous heights. People are such skillful wordsmiths today that they can paint people into verbal corners, putting them out of the conversation with words that condemn, destroy or marginalize. As people who communicate, and especially as those who are called to “speak the truth in love,” it is important that we understand this. These tactics may be a way to win arguments, but it is no way to convince people or to convert people to your side of the discussion. Let’s look at a few of these.

Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice: I use this example first because it is probably the most illustrative of the problem. When the two sides of this hot-button issue were trying to play nice, these were the terms they used. Unfortunately, as it is with most hot-button issues, discourse fails quickly and with it goes our ability to play nice. As a person who is pro-life, I bristle when people call my position “anti-choice.” I’m not anti-choice, I can tell you about a multitude of choices that would keep people out of the clinics altogether. Aside from that, I am not hateful or judgmental and I am a firm believer in showing people love and grace. Given the choice, I simply want to see people choose life for an unborn child. When we change the language, we make our opponent a villain. Here’s how it works. If I were to call someone who disagrees with me (and we pro-lifers have played this game too and it is also wrong) anti-life or pro-death, it would be equally objectionable and unfair.

Anti-intellectuallism: This is one of those words I hear thrown about more and more, especially in church circles. Think about what this word really says. To be anti-intellectual could be said to be pro-stupidity, but that doesn’t sound enlightened. Essentially what the person who uses this word is saying is anyone who disagrees with my supposition is against reason and thought. This is not the case, especially with regard to the Scripture. Those of us who take a more literal view of God’s Word, simply grow suspicious when people seem to be attempting to remove the divinity and the miraculous from the Word of the One who is both divine and miraculous. I love to explore the meaning of Scripture. I just start to draw a line when exegesis starts to feel like “exit Jesus.” It doesn’t mean I’m anti-intellectual, it means I disagree with your interpretation.

Tolerance vs. Intolerance: This one of the grand-daddy of them all. I would say that the redefinition of the words tolerance and intolerance, is diabolical, but that would be violating my own principle. Instead I will say this, making the word intolerance equivalent to hate is just plain wrong and a violation of the language itself. Tolerance used to mean we could disagree, maybe even disagree vehemently, and still have some respect for each other, maybe even to be friends. Today tolerance requires me to be in total agreement with you on every point of your life and anything less than total agreement is intolerant, which is now a synonym for hate. That borders on totalitarian and is the very (actual) definition of intolerance. I can disagree with you without hating you and if you can’t reciprocate, I’m not the one with the problem. Disagreement can be a catalyst to understanding, but that implies a degree of (actual) tolerance and having a rational discussion. Anything less than this builds walls which cannot be torn down and chasms which cannot be crossed.

These are just a few of the multitude of examples. Basically, it all boils down to this: If your argument belittles or vilifies your opponent, if you think you have backed your opponent into a corner with words that make him look bad, stupid, hateful or worse, congratulations, you have won the battle.

Unfortunately, you have lost the war.

This ain’t chess, it’s life.

I’m not exactly sure what to call this post. To be honest, I’m not sure of much these days, but that God is still God, that God is still good and that Jesus is still Lord. We live in a world where discourse has been reduced to memes on social media. If it can’t be said in 140 characters or less, it won’t be heard. Disagreement is now hatred and tolerance, something that used to mean we could disagree, maybe even vehemently, and still respect and maybe even love each other, has been reduced to forced agreement with the status quo. Meanwhile I’ve seen Hitler mentioned on many occasions as an example of a Christian. For the record, no one who killed 11,000,000 million people is a Christian, period. This much is clear, we Christians have fallen out of favor. How should we react?

Well first of all, none of this should surprise us. Jesus told us people would hate us because of Him. Now if they hate you because you’re being a jerk, that’s on you, but if they hate you because of Him, that’s something different altogether. He went a step further in John 16 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them.” He’s been right about everything else, chances are He’s right about this, too.

The church will not always be a help to us either. Scripture reminds us “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3) A word of caution here, we can’t throw this verse at everyone who disagrees with us. Instead we must do what we have always been supposed to do, compare what we hear from pulpits and preachers (and the media, and the government, and everyone else) with the Word of God and live according to what the Word says.

So what do we do? We do what we’ve been called to do all along. We love others. We love everybody, even those who disagree with us, even those who may persecute us (and by the way, negative memes are not persecution). We pray for our leaders. We speak the truth in love. We help and bless and care and serve. We “Live such good lives among the [world] that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” Being reproached is no excuse to live anything but above reproach. We love because He first loved us. We do unto others as we would have them do unto us, regardless of what they actually do unto us. We follow Jesus, regardless.

Nothing has changed. Jesus is still Jesus. He will never steer you wrong. Everyone else… Well, not (always) so much.

equalityThe challenge word this week was equality. It’s a good word, an awesome word, something we should strive for… but there’s something better.

I miss tolerance. You see I believe tolerance has been redefined. Tolerance used to mean you and I could disagree, maybe even vehemently, on issues and still be friends, still respect each other, still hold each other in high esteem, dare I say, still love each other? Somehow tolerance has come to mean total compliance, essentially I have to agree with everything you say, think, believe and do. That is essentially the opposite of tolerance and I can’t believe no one sees the hypocrisy. Tolerance has become a one way street, resistance is futile.

Tolerance is seen as the greatest of virtues in our society and that’s a shame because tolerance is a bare minimum. If I would say I tolerate my wife, you would think my marriage is in deep trouble and you would be right. We haven’t stayed together for 25 years because we tolerate each other. Oh I have behaviors she tolerates no doubt and no doubt there are a few she can’t tolerate. We haven’t stayed married because we tolerate each other, we tolerate each other because of something greater.

Jesus commanded his followers to love their friends, their neighbors, their families and even their enemies (the people they can’t tolerate at all). In other words “love everybody.” He said, “A new command I give you, love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” You and I will not always agree. You may have beliefs, thoughts and actions I have a hard time tolerating and vice versa, I’m called to love you anyway. Love is greater than tolerance and equality and pretty much everything else. My faith demands love. My scripture says “God is love.” To me, being tolerated is nowhere near enough.

I want to be loved and so I strive to love.

From time to time I do a web comic called the Weird World of Weiss. I usually take a look at an issue (okay I vent about an issue) from my point of view. This one is about what I call the new intolerance. I didn’t vent this so people would jump on a bandwagon and say yeah those people sure are intolerant. Nor did I post it to cause problems. I posted it to make people think. We serve a God who died for the people who killed him. We need to learn to love each other. Love is greater by far than tolerance. The scriptural command to speak the truth in love comes down to two components, truth and love. Truth is the Word of God which we must follow, like it or not. Love causes us to show grace and mercy and it allows us to coexist with the people with whom we disagree. Truth without love is mean. Love without truth is a lie. When the two come together, we have real community. God’s Word is truth. If we will let it guide our lives and resolve our disagreements, we will go way beyond tolerance all the way to love.

Enjoy a little tour through The Weird World of Weiss. I welcome your comments. To see more of the Weird World of Weiss and other Cyberlight comics titles, click the images.