Let’s talk about love. Better yet, let’s talk about a different kind of love, a word less used—now more than ever: tolerance.
The sky is baby-blue as I write this; a warm, Texan-winter air has settled outside. Valentine’s Day is projected to look just as sunny, as it should. I’ve bought my wife her gift, and I’m exhilarated imagining the smile it’ll bring her.
My wife and I are not letting the unsettled American political landscape affect our Lover’s Day, as I suspect you aren’t either. Yet this political climate cannot help but come up in conversation.
When President Trump released his Executive Order banning travel from seven countries as well as the Syrian refugees, my wife and I asked ourselves, like many Americans, what had brought our country to the point where we ban droves of people because they come from a specific spot of land. Fear and prejudice are holding reign.
I have heard people say that a thing called love is the solution.
I would like to express my apprehension about love being the solution to America’s problem. Read me out before you dismiss it. I hold the statement, “Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Cor 13:4) to be true. However, I disagree that all the world needs right now is Love—capital-L-type love.
I believe the solution is Tolerance—capital-T-type tolerance.
Love is deep affection for another human being on a level of profound intimacy. Our country is scattered with humans who struggle to give this affection to their children, their spouse, their families, let alone a stranger.
Tolerance, according to Merriam-Webster, means “the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behavior that one dislikes or disagrees with.” Or, in other words, to endure opinions, beliefs and practices differing or conflicting with your own.
The word “acceptance” should not be part of the words “tolerance” or “love.”
“Acceptance” is defined as “agreement with or belief in an idea, opinion or explanation.”
Acceptance is conforming diverse ideas, opinions, or explanations into one that is agreed upon by everybody. Tolerance is allowing diverse ideas, opinions or explanations be and unify under the banner of difference. Tolerance does not accept ideas but endures their existence.
I am a Christian and I do not accept blasphemous opinions, beliefs or practices, but if I wish to be a part of this society, I must learn to tolerate them. I am a strong believer in the “agree-to-disagree” system.
To believe we should agree on a handful of opinions, beliefs or practices is to forget human beings are incredibly varied.
First let America—which is apparently devoted to some type of intolerance on both political sides—tolerate itself, then America will have the capacity for something as awesome as Love.
When I was talking to my wife about tolerance over love, she brought to my attention an essay by E.M. Forster called “Tolerance” which I found incredibly apt. I highly recommend it.
Forster writes, “On the basis of that tolerance a civilized future may be built.”
We are now two months into the year of our Lord, 2017, coming off the heels of a year wrought with political and social turmoil. What I’m writing is neither sexy nor shiny: we shouldn’t enforce acceptance of other cultures, and I don’t believe love–in its most profound state–can be held worldwide right now, but we, as human beings with intrinsic value and worth beyond all externals, can tolerate our differences enough to be civilized.
You can dislike my beliefs, ideas and opinions but just see value in my difference as I attempt to do the same with yours. Tolerance, as Forster writes, “is wanted above all between classes, races, religions and nations. It’s dull. And yet it entails imagination. For you have all the time to be putting yourself in someone else’s place. Which is a desirable spiritual exercise.”
God bless and keep our country.