Sunday, August 16, 2009

I won't tolerate intolerance.

One day the CEO of the company for whom I worked made a statement that caught my weird sense of language. She was talking about an incident where some children were engaging in racist types of dialogue. She told us, “Of course, you know me. I won't tolerate intolerance.”

Have you ever thought about “tolerance?” In this diverse society, we are constantly reminded of the requirement to “tolerate” those with whom we differ for whatever reason. Those of us that were brought up as Christians, were admonished to “love” one another. The command includes loving our neighbors, our family, our government, and our enemies. The same admonition given to the Jews and to the Buddhists, as well. In none of those traditions were we told to “tolerate.” We are commanded to “love.”

See where I'm going? If you do, you are ahead of me. I'm not sure I can explain this clearly. To me, the term “tolerate” has more to do with avoidance and preservation of peace than it has to do with love. Tolerate does not mean “accept.” It just means that we have to allow the other to practice whatever it is one may practice. In my mind, if you don't think you can accept another 100%, then the next best thing is to tolerate the other. It is an expedience; a practical, pragmatic attitude to avoid conflict and possible mutual destruction.

OK, that brings me to another point in my practical experience of learning to love (accept unconditionally). I find myself judging another, and realize that I am not thinking loving thoughts. So, I start trying to justify the behavior of the person I have come to judge. In effect, I am rationalizing and finding a condition by which I can “love” the one I judged. The irony is, of course, that I set up a condition for love. Love, by definition, is unconditional. In the end, I am only providing an excuse to tolerate the person, not love the person. I fall short of love by a long distance, do I not?

I learn a lot from my dogs. I can tell you without hedging any definitions, I LOVE my dogs. They cannot keep me from loving them. They can do nothing to stop my love for them. My dogs are like me--they have behaviors that can be irritating. When those behaviors manifest, I very lovingly seek a way to correct the behavior, or in the case when they soil the floor with biological discharge, I clean it up. For other behavioral corrections, I will think of appropriate ways to demonstrate to the dog what I expect without in any way striking or hurting the dog. In the end, I really do not “tolerate” my dogs. I love them and I involve myself with them and I teach them what they need to know.

See the difference?

I guess, until I have grown spiritually to the point that I can love all things, I will have to settle for tolerating all things. And to say I will tolerate something is offensive. It makes me sound arrogant. My goal is to become love. I will have to tolerate tolerance until I learn to love. Life is just chock full of contradictions, is it not?

Be Peace.
Be Love.

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