May 26, 2016

My Definition of Tolerance

Did you read Dani's post Tuesday?  If not, get on that, please.  I'll wait.

The post she's referring to is a confusing one.  A lot of "I'm tolerant because I only believe gay people shouldn't get married, I don't DO anything about it.  But please don't say anything mean to me because I deserve the tolerance that I don't actually give to others."  At least that was my interpretation.  You might have a different one.

I write about a lot of social issues, and I frequently write them in a, well, passionate tone.  Yeah, passionate, let's go with that.  I use strong language and I don't always make it clear that disagreements would be welcomed.  Honestly, I usually struggle to form gracious replies when it does happen, so I won't pretend otherwise.

But what I don't do is say, "This is my opinion, so don't disagree with me or say anything mean."  I don't cage my statements with ridiculousness like, "People will probably try to shut me down/stop me from saying this/negate my opinion/etc."  Because my opinion is just one of many and the fact that I expressed it invites others to express theirs.  Freedom of speech does NOT mean you can say whatever you want without consequences.  It means no one can stop you from saying what you want, and they can choose to act accordingly.

And somewhere in the heart of that is where I believe tolerance lies.  I don't believe tolerance is simply ignoring things you don't like.  I don't think it's enough to just bury your head in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist.  I think true tolerance exists when we live and let live.  When we don't write legislature that gives privileges to some and restrictions to others.  When we don't seek to control the lives of others just because our beliefs are different.

I don't believe we live in a very tolerant society.  And, in my opinion, it's still one highly influenced by religion, which hasn't historically been very good at tolerance.  I think it's something we struggle with, each and every one of us, because by nature, we're suspicious of anything new or different, and we're "uncomfortable" with things we haven't been around much.  But we're also living in a society that is capable of rapid advancement, and change, and questioning the modus operandi.

That is a power we need to use more.  Do you have core beliefs?  Do you have opinions?  Do you know you're absolutely, 100% right?  Why not question yourself, just a tad?  I do it all the time.  I've changed plenty of opinions that I've realized were just outdated or wrong, after time and experience showed me what an ass I was.  Even if you end up in the same place you started, true tolerance is only going to be reached when you put yourself in someone else's shoes, and think about life from their point of view, before going back to ignoring it.

If you did your research and realized your stance on a social issue actually negatively impacted other people's lives, would you still believe it?  If their actions had nothing to do with you, and would impact your life in no possible way, would you still seek to control them and prevent them from living that way?  How much of other people's pain is worth adhering to an ancient scripture full of conflicting messages, many of which are ignored by the majority of believers of that faith?

You might do all of the above and then still believe what you believed before and if that's the case, I certainly won't stop you.  You express your opinion all you want, but I will too.

The floor is yours.  What do you think?


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12 comments:

  1. "Freedom of speech does NOT mean you can say whatever you want without consequences.  It means no one can stop you from saying what you want, and they can choose to act accordingly." THIS. This is what people always forget. And also, it actually just means the GOVERNMENT cannot stop you from speaking your opinion. You can still lose your job or the respect or trust of friends and neighbors by voicing a troubling opinion or doing something stupid.

    The thing is, there's nothing to be tolerant of when it's just an opinion. Your entitled to yours, I am to mine, and she is to hers. But there is no "tolerating" another person's opinion. Especially when that opinion actively, tangibly, and ACTUALLY harms others. Using your opinion of gay marriage or LGBT people to silence them, harm them, and rob them of human rights? No, I'm not going to be tolerant of that. But I will never try to take away YOUR RIGHT TO HAVE THAT OPINION.

    I'm not making sense I don't think because I just have too much rage over this lunacy.

    One last thought: If you believe it goes against your religion to NOT harm other people who are doing absolutely nothing to affect yours or the greater good, you need a new f*cking religion.

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    1. Ugh, I need to proofread when I'm angry. I hope you get what I was trying to say there.

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  2. “Freedom of speech does NOT mean you can say whatever you want without consequences. It means no one can stop you from saying what you want, and they can choose to act accordingly.” So much yes to this!!! THIS is what freedom of speech truly means, and yet, no one seems to get it. Everyone ONLY operates under the 'I can say whatever I want and you can't stop me' mentality. Dude, “I think true tolerance exists when we live and let live.” YES!! I mean, let's look at the word tolerance: "the ability or WILLINGNESS to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with." People need to learn some English...

    I’m truly at a loss for words because this post is so perfectly perfect. I mean, everything is golden. All I can do is share this forever.

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  3. I was going to say the same thing as Alyssa. Freedom of speech, as intended by the Bill of Rights, is freedom against government tyranny and censorship. Not freedom to say whatever you want, whenever you want. Private citizens can certainly shut your ass down and do things like, say, kick you out of their bar.
    I don't care about things that don't affect me. Like gay marriage. 'If you don't like gay marriage, don't get gay married.' The end. Which is good and bad - good because I let everyone else do whatever they want, bad because I'm not an 'activist' trying to get everyone equality but, I'm just me and I have to pick what I care about to activate for which is never a human related cause. Animals, save all the animals.

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    1. Also, it's a sin according to the Bible to mix fabrics. So ya know, enjoy your cotton poly blend t-shirt in hell!

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  4. so i read Dani's post and then that other girls and I am honestly a bit in shock. I agree with you and what you said about tolerance.. it sounds like she was basically saying oh poor me, i have an opinion that doesn't mesh with anyone else's but you can't get mad at me, because that is tolerance! no, that is not tolerance.
    at the end of the day, or life, what i don't understand is why the flipping hell it matters to you if bob marries sally or jack. honestly. it has no impact on your life at all. blaming it on a religion that you believe in is so ridiculous it makes me mad. not everyone subscribes to your religion and you are being extremely ignorant and arrogant if you think they do or should.
    i have absolutely changed opinions before. it's like that friends episode, when phoebe makes ross admit that evolution *might* be wrong, because they were wrong about the earth being flat. i am not opposed to learning, reevaluating and changing my opinion. i am opposed to people shoving their religion and their beliefs down my throat and requesting that i please live my life the way a book tells me to - even though there are plenty of things in that book that they themselves do not obey. only the ones they want to.

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  5. Obviously, I agree with all of this :) Like you, I've re-evaluated core beliefs many times throughout the years as I've grown, matured, learned, and had new experiences. And that's GOOD. But that's just me. I don't like to be ignorant, I want to be informed, and I love learning new things.

    Feeling "uncomfortable" should not lead to intolerance. I think the last time I felt that way, or conflicted really, was when I started with Blue. I was faced with something very new to me, and I worked through it. Changing longstanding beliefs, whether personal or not, isn't always easy, and it shouldn't be. Discussions like these and even debates in which other points of views can be/are presented should always be considered, however one must be open-minded for real change to occur. And honestly I feel sorry for people who are so rigid in their beliefs that they won't accept any new ideologies.

    I think I went a little off topic, but I hope you get what I mean!

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  6. I've read all related posts and the very first girl's post was disgusting, her written words and beliefs are one of the main reason's I choose not to be a religious person.

    My mom is religious but she always taught us tolerance. When we were really young 5 and 6 probably we lived in Michigan in what was known as "The Projects". I'm sure I don't have to tell you what "The Projects" were. Anyway all kinds of different people lived in "The Projects" including a transsexual, that's right I had a transsexual neighbor in the 80's. She was a funny lady and sometimes we laughed at her clothes because they were so outrageous but I never remember thinking how weird that guy is dressed like a lady. My mom never told us to stay away from her or told us she was dangerous. She told us what she was and we accepted her explanation and we all minded our own business and lived happily ever after.

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  7. The freedom of speech thing drives me NUTS. Like the multiple business who have come out as anti-gay get boycotted...and people cry out, "Freedom of speech!" Umm, yeah, they're totally free to say that, and people who disagree are totally free to boycott... What's the question? Ugh.

    I will never understand why someone would want to restrict rights for any group of people (based on sexual orientation, gender/gender identity, race, etc.) but I recognize that those people are allowed to have their opinions, and I'm allowed to disagree. And they're allowed to disagree with me. So why are they acting like they're oppressed? Plenty of people share their opinions.

    I also think people lose sight of the separation of church and state and freedom of religion in this country (aka the fact that freedom from religion is for ALL religious beliefs, including Islam, atheism...not just Christianity).

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  8. Awesome, awesome post, Jenn. I love this so much. People like to pretend otherwise but we are not very tolerant of those different than ourselves. I understand feeling a little uncertain and even confused when people have a different set of beliefs than our own but that doesn't make them wrong to have them. It's about respect. I am entitled to my beliefs, just as you are entitled to your own. We may not agree at all but we should respect each others right to have their own beliefs. At the same time it does not mean we should write laws to discriminate against people just because it goes against your beliefs. It just upsets me so much when people use religion to mask their intolerance, racism and hate.

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    1. Thank you! (and thanks for sharing my post :) I think it's silly when people try to pretend they have no prejudices. We all do, and tolerance isn't an inherent feature in our genetic makeup. It's something we have to learn and practice.

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