Friday, March 8, 2013

in·tol·er·ance vs. tol·er·ance

It was a so-so run today. Besides something I must have ingested yesterday which was wreaking havoc on me since 3:30am this morning and throughout my 7 miler, I had some other things on my mind. A few will remain where they my mind, but one I feel the need to flesh out.
If I may, I'd like to offer a definition of the word "intolerance" and "tolerance":
in·tol·er·ance: 1) refusal to accept differences: unwillingness or refusal to accept people who are different from you, or views, beliefs, or lifestyles that differ from your own; 2) state of being intolerant: the state of being easily annoyed; 3) allergic sensitivity (I'll spare you the rest of #3 as that's not what I'm talking about)
tol·er·ance: 1) acceptance of different views: the acceptance of the differing views of other people, e.g. in religious or political matters, and fairness toward the people who hold these different views; 2) tolerating of somebody or something: the act of putting up with somebody or something irritating or otherwise unpleasant; 3) ability to endure hardship: the ability to put up with harsh or difficult conditions.
About Me: I'm a Type A kinda guy. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. That doesn't always serve me well, especially in the workplace but it is who I am and I'm constantly working on bettering my "approach" to others, especially when challenged and it's contrary to my beliefs. Integrity...well, it's my cornerstone, my pet peeve, or whatever other acronym sums up "IT'S A HUGE DEAL!" to me. As for my core beliefs and foundations upon which I live every day, I make no bones about that. I'm a Christian. I believe in the trinity. I believe Christ was a whole heck of a lot more than a good man. He was THE man! Easter, actually, is the most important holiday of all to me. Sure, we need Christmas as that's His birthday but Easter is THE exclamation point on my faith. So, given that you know my foundation, you should know that I seek to follow His lead, to be "like" Him, to ask myself in every situation "What would He do?" and do my best to do just that.
I'd like to propose some questions to you as you read today. First of all, would you agree that Christ was tolerant or would you disagree and consider Him intolerant, based on what you know of Him and the definitions above?  Keep in mind a key point: tolerance does not mean you take on another's views, it simply means you "accept" the different view while being fair towards the other person. The opposite, intolerance, represents an unwillingness to accept PEOPLE themselves...because their view differs. Make sense? So for Christ, what do you think? I propose that He was incredibly tolerant. In fact, some of the greatest stories in the Bible are of Him blessing people who were FAR from what was considered good: prostitutes, tax collectors, and the diseased. Society's views of these people were ones of rejection yet He went to them and while He may not have agreed, etc. about their ways, He reached out to them. The Bible is littered with examples of how the main populations were turned off by Him because of who He "ran" with and the crowds He was found teaching in. I can't help but think of Pastor Mark Jobe in Chicago who has 19 church "campuses" in every ethnic area regardless of the "social status." He is meeting them where they are, regardless.
There are many in the running community who consider me to be intolerant. I know so. There are many outside, as well. However, there is no doubt that the bulk of folks whom I know are runners. There are a good many that think simply because I "believe" one way, I'm "intolerant" to the subject at hand (of which we're not going to dig into doesn't matter). Their response is a complete severing of the relationship, the almighty "unfriending" and permanent "blocking" on social media, then the trash-talking within the running circles. It sucks the most when the person is race director of a race I'm hugely fond of. To know that I'm truly no longer welcome because of what I believe and NOT because of something I've DONE...well, that really stinks. I, on the other hand, have a handful of friends whom I know we stand at the opposite end of the spectrum...we both know it...yet we fully embrace the friendship. THAT, my friends, is the epitome of tolerance. THAT is precisely how I live, too. You won't catch me bashing a certain social class, sexual preference or anything. I promise you. I can also tell you I'd make a really crappy Naval Officer if I lived that way, too. A lot of this came to a head last Fall when the whole Chick-Fil-A controversy exploded simply because the CEO of that company stated what they believe and how they govern their company. They weren't spreading hate or anything. They have beliefs and they live them out. Don't you? DON'T YOU?!? We all do. That's when I first felt the wrath of intolerance against me. Here's the big irony in all of this and wow, it's telling.
I just scratch my head every time I get a dose of this. "Your ugly intolerance against me is precisely what you are accusing me of." I'll never get over that's the same every time. Then there comes the debate on issues that are core to our beliefs. You know what they are and I'd bet if you recall one right now, you're convinced that no one's going to convince you otherwise, right? So why do we spend so much time debating them, losing friendships, causing strife, and creating an environment rich with finger-pointing and gossip? Instead, why don't we live what we believe, be accepting of others who don't share our views, and simply treat others as we want to be treated? Why can't we be selfless instead of selfish? Again...I don't think I can say it enough: I am not proposing we accept the belief. We should accept the person instead of rejecting them. That's key to my point. Tolerance.
So when I went through this again recently, it wrapped itself around my mind again and really bothered me. Because I won't fight on the issues but will also clearly state them without hesitation or reservation, I'm a lamb in a lion's fight. Luckily, I have THE main Lion in my corner but in the here and now, in the flesh and blood, it's just me...tolerant me. I'm not crying "woe is me" here but asking you: please be tolerant. Don't be the vehicle of intolerance. Next time you come upon the fork in the road of intolerance vs tolerance, count to 30 and make a good and wholesome decision. That's all I ask.


Pastorjason said...


Spot on then and spot on now! As a Pastor as soon as I mention that I am one I get the automatic building of what I believe in and what I do to wrong them. It sad that we live in a world today that we can't disagree and still get along. Its one of my main issues I stand for is unity. I may not agree on all points with you but it doesn't mean I can't still love you like Christ did. BTW, we do need to get together for coffee would love to talk more! LEt me know when you are able and we can get something set!

Sheila Bray said...


That was an awesome post! I totally agree. I believe I am a very tolerant person, but as soon as people find out I am a Christian they label me. Funny how that works. I try really hard not to label them because I believe Christ loves everyone and wants us to show them the same love no matter what they believe. Thanks for your words!