I had a muffuletta with someone I hadn’t seen in several years today. We’re not close, but we click satisfyingly and laugh a lot whenever we’re together. I should also mention we have several political and philosophical differences, though probably not as many as she thinks.
Anyway, I was emailing with her afterward about putting together another lunch or perhaps a happy hour with other folks who were invited, but couldn’t make it today. And she ribbed me a bit about being “tolerant” of her.
I was surprised at how much that word flew all over me. She was kidding me, but it was like it was the impetus for me to think about what it really means for the first time.
What is to “tolerate” something? Your feelings and your actions don’t match. To tolerate is to check, is it not? If I’m suggesting that you be tolerant, I’m saying “hey, keep your prejudice; just don’t act on it.” Right?
Well, what the hell kind of message is that? If you hate black people or gay people or women or gay black women or whatever, should I be saying “control your urges,” or should I be saying “don’t have your urges in the first place”?
I wrote her back and said “I do NOT tolerate you. I accept you.”
When I accept, my feelings and actions match. I feel how I feel, and I don’t have to “act” in any particular way; my actions are inherently true to my feelings.
Lots of ostensibly well-meaning people are preaching “tolerance” today. I realized this afternoon that I believe said preaching essentially legitimizes hate. They should be preaching acceptance.