The invested vs. the tolerant
FIRST, LET US BE CLEAR: LOVE AND TOLERANCE ARE NOT SYNONYMS.
So often in our world, we ask for tolerance. We claim that the act of intolerance is the source of our problems, and that in order to get along, we must simply “put up” with each other.
But is tolerance really all we want? Is it the only thing we need in our lives to be happy with one another?
I believe tolerance is an insult to our worth as men and women alike. Tolerance is asking those around us to simply give us their bare minimum and “put up” with what we have to say, or how we wish to behave. It also works vice versa- we are asked to simply deal with the behavior and words of our neighbors.
Again, I ask: Is this truly the sure-fire way to live in communion with one another?
Tolerance defined means, “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.” In essence, to just “deal” with someone.
When I think of the tolerance argument, currently being made to progress equality among race and gender, I think of the woman & fussy child example. Imagine yourself as a mother waiting in the checkout line of Target. Your child has been temperamental all day, but there in line he absolutely loses it.
In this case, the tolerant woman would put up with the tantrum. Coddle it. Enable it. Acknowledge his feelings, but then not correct his behavior. She is passive, as if she doesn’t care at all.
Is this what we want? Is this what we crave? Do we wish to go through life being “accepted?” As if we are just good enough, or as if there was no standard at all. You are just there - white noise.
Or do you want to be loved by your neighbors?
Love, by Christian definition, comes from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.”
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TOLERANCE AND LOVE IS THAT LOVE INVESTS.
Those that love you don’t just put up with you, they want to see your success. Those that love you don’t just accept you, they want to see you grow. Those that love you don’t just disagree with you and deal with it, but challenge you and provide you an avenue to accountability. Those that love you are not lukewarm, they are on fire for you to their core.
Let’s revisit the mother & fussy child example. Imagine if the mother was invested in her relationship with her son (as most are). Not only would she soothe the child, but she would also correct his behavior. She would explain to him the appropriate way to express your feelings is by using your words. She would set a precedent for future breakdowns, knowing there will be more where this has come from.
In our lives it is just the same. I don’t want others to tolerate me, I want others to be invested in me. If my behavior does not reflect my values, if my words appear too harsh, if in any way I seem to lack love and compassion for my neighbors, I would hope that those around me would be invested enough to stand up to me.
The problem in our society today is that we no longer know what love is. We demote it to a mere step above tolerance. Love now means that we enjoy putting up with each other. Even in the the Merriam-Webster dictionary it says, “[Love is] the strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties, sexual desire, affection based on admiration or common interests.”
Now love is so watered down, so haphazard. If I like spending time with you, apparently that is love.
Where is the sacrifice? Where is the suffering?
Love isn’t just what makes you feel good. Love is uncomfortable. Love puts you in difficult situations.
The next time I read or hear someone call for tolerance, I will have no trouble to stand up to them and say, “I call for something more than that- I call for a movement toward pure, unfailing love.”
Sure, I may get an eye roll. Love is not a one-way street. It’s not me talking at you, it’s me and you growing together as a unit.
IF I AM TO TRULY LOVE, I MUST:
Nowhere on that list does it call to be tolerant. That’s because it asks for so much more. Love calls you to commit, not to simply deal.
You deserve more than to be tolerated. You deserve commitment. You deserve to grow and to learn. You deserve to be an investment in someone’s life. You are worthy of this.