Braking Points

Exploring the Adventure of Aging



Questions from a Friend: “Can Intolerance promote Tolerance?”

imageI am lactose intolerant. So trust me on this, whether a single word I write after this makes sense, it is in everyone around me’s best interest that I do not have milk, cheese, ice cream, etc. Of course, I have discovered lactose free dairy products and I do enjoy these. Nevertheless, no amount of the “hair of the dog” in my case lactose products will make me tolerate them more. I don’t hate them. In fact, I am quite a fan of ice cream and do cheat at times, but the consequences are not pretty.

So NERD that I am, I looked up the word Tolerance and the following touches on several factions of that definition:

1 capacity to endure pain or hardship : endurance, fortitude, stamina

2 a : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own b : the act of allowing something : toleration

3 the allowable deviation from a standard; especially : the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension in machining a piece

4 a : the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (as a drug) or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure ; also : the immunological state marked by unresponsiveness to a specific antigen b : relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor

5 the maximum amount of a pesticide residue that may lawfully remain on or in food

Should we settle for tolerance? Should we view our fellow human beings with a form of sympathy that sees those different from ourselves as victims? Should we choose to hold our tongues when someone obviously is making choices that are detrimental to them? Shall we embrace an attitude of indifference, so that we merely TOLERATE those who are different from ourselves?

Or as a Christian I ask myself shall I do what Jesus commanded:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34, 35 NIV)

There was an ad campaign a few years ago to curb driving under the influence that asked the question: “Would a friend let a friend drive drunk?” And there are so many other endings appropriate to that question. I may love someone deeply and yet not ‘tolerate’ their choices. I may have to ask myself some tough questions as to my motive and my intent and I certainly will need to pray, but “Would a friend let a friend ….?”

Can intolerance promote tolerance? And Really, IS tolerance the answer. Or is there a finer goal for living in a free, society governed by laws such as the USA which is based on the premise that “all…are created equal”? Will we become a society of people who indulge ANYTHING as long as it is progressive, popular, and promoted in every venue? For those who are Christians, as I am, will we allow the masses who choose the broad road to destruction to march to blindly to hell? Or will we LOVE like the Master and snatch them from “sin and the grave”?

Today, Lord, help me love like Jesus loves and speak truth like He spoke and treat all persons as those for whom Christ died. Amen

Questions from a Friend: 1. Can you legislate tolerance or morality?

Recently Jeff M. of Louisville, KY posted the following on Facebook:

“So, I have a few questions for you: Do you think we can or should legislate tolerance or morality? How important is political correctness? Can intolerance promote tolerance? Can violence promote peace? Do you hesitate expressing your view here and if so, why?”

The comments with some back and forth discussion numbered were well thought out, sincere and I think reflected the thoughtful worldview of those who responded. I heartily cheer those who responded and expect others wished to respond, but hesitated to do so, especially in light of Jeff’s final question.

Reading the forum that his questions initiated, I recognized old debates restated by intelligent people who were born and raised in a postmodern world, where skepticism of anything and everything trumps “walking by faith”. Frankly, I encounter skepticism among my peers who like me are older, but that usually involves “technology”.

I personally am less inclined to debate issues, finding that words well chosen often lead to a “winner” but not always to the truth. But still Jeff’s questions intrigued me, because they are not new and yet they are timely. So thank you, Jeff for making me take a new look at old issues.

imageDo you think we can or should legislate tolerance or morality?

Not really sure if tolerance belongs in this question, but more about that later. Can morality be legislated? Should it be? And to what end? Apparently, it can be since Moses traipsed up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. Whether one is a believer in God or not, one has to acknowledge that these ten standards or at least five of them establish a foundation for civil and moral law. Just read them through, all ten:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:2-17 NIV)

And yet if you read the Bible or even if you don’t empirical knowledge supports the fact that the intention of the law to govern behavior worked part of the time with some horrendous lapses and the true intention of the law to change the inward man or woman failed pretty much 100% of the time. The intention of God’s Law to shape inner character, love, grace even in the most faithful fell short, because alas we are a fragile, flawed people. As a Christian, I could now lead into a discussion of how Jesus fulfilled the Law of God and set us free from its power, which involved a massive load of guilt for those trying to follow it. But, I will continue to weave that into my posts rather than digressing from the point of this one. Suffice it to say, everything I say and everything I do if it has any worth comes from the rock solid center of Christ in me the hope of Glory.

So can morality be legislated through civil law? Yes. Should it be? Yes. Is all law intended to legislate morality MORAL? No. (for another time) Am I bound to follow it? In most cases, yes? Will it change my inner self, my views, my beliefs? Probably not, but it might open my eyes to a new way of looking at things. Will it produce a kinder, gentler people? Only in those who truly seek to be kinder and gentler and in others who do not care, it will create practiced hypocrites. It will create the facade of political correctness with no depth of human compassion.
Next time: How important is political correctness?

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