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Intolerance Vs. Tolerance


McKenna
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This is a question I've run across frequently when dealing with liberal religion, including on UU forums. Due to some comments in another thread, I've been pondering it for a few days and I was wondering what you all would think.

 

Is it intolerant to be intolerant of intolerance? Wow, I know, that was repetitious. But in all seriousness; is it? In other words, if person A says something racist, and person B says "I'm not going to tolerate that kind of remark," is person B being intolerant? I suppose by saying "I'm not going to tolerate such and such" he is by definition being intolerant - but is this a negative thing? Is it wrong to be intolerant of others' intolerance?

 

There is, I think, a difference. Person A is being intolerant of a person. Person B is being intolerant of a person's actions. This I think is the key.

 

But how can one be intolerant of a person's actions while being tolerant of the person him- or herself? For example - should I tolerate a rapist? I am clearly intolerant of his actions. Yet if he discontinues these actions - then maybe I can tolerate him. As long as he continues to rape or molest, he's letting his actions define him and thus if I am to be intolerant of his actions I am by implication intolerant of him. If he ceases these actions and seeks to repent, I am to forgive him and thus tolerate him. (Whether I can forgive or not is another story...but in an ideal world that is what would happen.) So does that mean person B is intolerant of person A as long as person A is racist? But then the difference that I mentioned above is no longer applicable - B is intolerant of a person. But is he wrong to be?

 

I've kind of just let my thoughts run full circle...I hope I made some sort of sense. These are the arguments I've been having with myself for days. I'd love to know what you all think!

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This is a question I've run across frequently when dealing with liberal religion, including on UU forums. Due to some comments in another thread, I've been pondering it for a few days and I was wondering what you all would think.

 

Is it intolerant to be intolerant of intolerance?

McKenna,

in·tol·er·ant

a. Unwilling to tolerate differences in opinions, practices, or beliefs, especially religious beliefs.

 

Yes.

Of course it your option to be what you choose to be. It helps not to look at it as being 'good' or 'bad' or as 'right' or 'wrong'. Why make a bunch of unwritten laws for yourself to be snared by?

 

Is it a 'Negative' thing? Again, that is so subjective and varies according to circumstances that it is wise to not hold a fast belief either way. For example, if you are trying to lose weight it would be wise not to tolerate too much time hanging around drinkers and big eaters. If you want a long safe life it is wise not to tolerate a friend who is drunk to drive you somewhere. Just a view to consider.

 

Love and Peace,

JM

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i

n·tol·er·ant

a. Unwilling to tolerate differences in opinions, practices, or beliefs, especially religious beliefs.

 

Nice thread and beutiful replies.

 

The system to realize the soul should be for the sole purpose of uncovering and deactivating the wrong positions of our thoughts and to build in the mind a concept of our spiritual inheritance, which is what this thread is attempting. A thought built upon the realization of God's pure consciousness reduces the effect of negative thoughts and can even erase them. Light contests darkness by just being light so we don’t have to combat evil and sin, but just be ourselves. We have no need to decide if it is tolerant, sinful or any other opinions because we can't see the whole picture. We can react at the moment and watch our mental picture. To meditate and contemplate daily on a perfect life is the high road to peace and happiness, a road that shows us God with the perfect vision of the soul. We don't need to judge because God does that for us so to believe in imperfection is to doubt God; it is belief in a power apart from God, another creator so we practise spiritually to connect to God via our soul. Please be tolerant of my abstractions.

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This is a question I've run across frequently when dealing with liberal religion, including on UU forums. Due to some comments in another thread, I've been pondering it for a few days and I was wondering what you all would think.

 

Is it intolerant to be intolerant of intolerance? Wow, I know, that was repetitious. But in all seriousness; is it? In other words, if person A says something racist, and person B says "I'm not going to tolerate that kind of remark," is person B being intolerant? I suppose by saying "I'm not going to tolerate such and such" he is by definition being intolerant - but is this a negative thing? Is it wrong to be intolerant of others' intolerance?

 

There is, I think, a difference. Person A is being intolerant of a person. Person B is being intolerant of a person's actions. This I think is the key.

 

But how can one be intolerant of a person's actions while being tolerant of the person him- or herself? For example - should I tolerate a rapist? I am clearly intolerant of his actions. Yet if he discontinues these actions - then maybe I can tolerate him. As long as he continues to rape or molest, he's letting his actions define him and thus if I am to be intolerant of his actions I am by implication intolerant of him. If he ceases these actions and seeks to repent, I am to forgive him and thus tolerate him. (Whether I can forgive or not is another story...but in an ideal world that is what would happen.) So does that mean person B is intolerant of person A as long as person A is racist? But then the difference that I mentioned above is no longer applicable - B is intolerant of a person. But is he wrong to be?

 

I've kind of just let my thoughts run full circle...I hope I made some sort of sense. These are the arguments I've been having with myself for days. I'd love to know what you all think!

 

Hi McKenna

 

Another way of looking at it is through Kant's "Categorical Imperative".That is, we act as if our actions could be universally applied to everyone, including ourselves. For example, the criminal mind says" I can steal from you, but you can't steal from me" . This is a violation of the categorical imperative because the thief by his actions has made stealing universally acceptable. If he can steal that means everyone else in the world has a right to steal from him.

 

This leads to the question "does a intolerant person have a right to demand tolerance from every or anybody else?". I would think not . By being intolerant they have ,in essence said, that intolerance is a universal value applied to everyone. They can't say " I can be intolerant of you , but you can't be intolerant of me.

 

Some on the Right say," you people claim to be tolerant so that means you have to tolerate us. But we don't have to tolerate you because we don't claim to be tolerant in the first place". That sounds like the philandering husband saying " baby, you knew I was a player when we married , so you know I'm going to be unfaithful. But if you ever cheat on me I'll kill you"

 

The categorical imperative is alot like the Golden Rule common to many religions.

 

MOW

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Thanks for the replies, everyone :) I'm enjoying reading and pondering them. I'll try to get back to them in a few weeks when I have a little more time (I'm slightly swamped at the moment) and something more intelligent to add :)

 

Would love to hear more opinions as well! ;)

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  • 2 weeks later...
This is a question I've run across frequently when dealing with liberal religion, including on UU forums. Due to some comments in another thread, I've been pondering it for a few days and I was wondering what you all would think.

 

Is it intolerant to be intolerant of intolerance?

 

I've kind of just let my thoughts run full circle...I hope I made some sort of sense. These are the arguments I've been having with myself for days. I'd love to know what you all think!

Hi McKenna. Wow, can ever relate to your post! When I began a few years ago to work intensively on deepening my spiritual understanding, the question you've asked -- is it intolerant to be intolerant of intolerance? -- occupied me for the better part of a year. Hmmm . . . no, maybe not a year. It took much more than a year to find the answer, come to think of it.

 

As a channeller, I had help. You might think this sounds unfair, because I could get a swift answer from Jesus and move on. But no. NO! It's not like that when you're an ethical channeller. When you're an ethical channeller, and you want the answer, you don't get the answer from your guardian angel in words -- you get it through painful personal experience. It's the only way to find the kind of wisdom and understanding that sticks to your ribs, as it were.

 

So when I began to study the question of judgment and intolerance, I was utterly convinced that it was always wrong to be intolerant of somebody else's beliefs. I believed to the bottom of my toes that God's unconditional love meant that anything I believed would be loved by God, and that anything Hitler believed would be loved by God, and that it was my spiritual duty to love Hitler's beliefs the way I thought God loved Hitler's beliefs. (I hope you don't mind if I use Hitler as an example. I figure if one can understand how God and God's angels relate to Hitler and his choices, then one can understand how God relates to everybody else.)

 

I was so darned sure I was right. And Jesus let me go on thinking I was right. And he didn't stop me when I temporarily turned myself into a gullible, enabling, miserable semi-ascetic. Eventually, Jesus got me to understand that God does not unconditionally love all the damaging choices human beings make. God forgives the damaging choices, but God does not embrace and rejoice in the damaging choices. In short, God has an opinion about the rightness and wrongness of people's choices. One could also say that God makes an objective assessment of people's choices based on one simple criterion: Does that choice make his/her soul happy? Or does that choice make his/her soul distressed?

 

God has an opinion about the actions of a rapist. The rapist's actions are not acceptable to the individual's soul. The rapist's actions are also not acceptable to our Mother and Father. It's therefore quite all right for you, as a human being, to say to the rapist, "Your actions are unacceptable to me." You're not judging the integrity and perfection of his/her soul in this case. You're simply agreeing with his soul and with his God when you state that violent predatory actions aren't worthy of him/her. (Sorry about the pronoun jumble.)

 

If, however, you were to say to the rapist, "Your actions are unacceptable, and your soul is filthy and unworthy and God will send you to hell for all eternity," then you're guilty of the highest form of intolerance. You're presuming to judge the integrity and perfection of the rapist's soul -- a soul who is just as upset about what happened as the victims. No human being has the right to judge a person's soul (including their own).

 

This becomes a process of discernment. You have to teach yourself to think the way God thinks. You have to learn what choices God loves, and what choices God does not love. You have to learn what choices your own soul loves, and what choices your own soul does not love. Then you go out into the world, and you try as hard as you can to be objective in your assessments of other people's choices vis-a-vis their soul's happiness. You learn to view other people's actions through the lens of their own soul. This requires empathy. It's not good enough to view another person through the lens of your own unique interests and talents. You must honour your brothers' and sisters' uniqueness in the same way God does.

 

So the answer to your question about intolerance depends entirely on the situation. There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer. But that's part of the process of acquiring spiritual wisdom -- you have to adjust your understanding as the situation changes.

 

Hope this helps. I know I'm using words to explain myself, and I know words usually can't substitute for personal experience, but maybe these words will resonate with others who are already exploring a difficult-to-fathom theological question.

 

Love Jen

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To me it seems choosing to be intolerant is not at all a question of 'right' or 'wrong' as in black and white, but rather applying wisdom according to purpose, in which case intolerance can be a very wise choice in many applications.

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  • 1 month later...

Several people have pointed out that it depends on the situation and that wisdom and discretion must be used. Perhaps I was not clear in my original post - I wasn't trying to find a black-and-white answer (I am quite wary of those ;)) but rather just trying to put a general question out there. Still, I see your points and I agree with you :)

 

MOW, I really enjoyed your discussion of the "categorical imperative." I think this is an excellent way to look at it - kind of like the Golden Rule as applied to the entire world rather than to an individual.

 

Some on the Right say," you people claim to be tolerant so that means you have to tolerate us. But we don't have to tolerate you because we don't claim to be tolerant in the first place". That sounds like the philandering husband saying " baby, you knew I was a player when we married , so you know I'm going to be unfaithful. But if you ever cheat on me I'll kill you"

 

This was the exact problem I was trying to deal with when I started this thread (and note that I agree that it is only some on the right, and I think the left has the same problem sometimes when dealing with other issues). I get tired of people telling me I have to accept everything because I believe in tolerance; so I was wondering if it made me a hypocrite if I didn't accept everything (not even close to everything). I don't think so, but it's hard to explain why. Therefore the question, is it intolerant to be intolerant of intolerance?

 

Soma, I disagree that it is wrong to judge in any situation, if that's what you're saying. I agree with Jen that to disagree with, and judge, a person's actions and beliefs doesn't mean that you're judging their soul (because I believe in a divine spark - though naturally that's just my personal view). For instance, I don't think it's wrong to judge the actions of a rapist as wrong. I don't believe God accepts all of our actions - if he did, would there be such a thing as morality? I don't need to judge the rapist at the deepest level - I agree that that's not my job, and that in that case yes, it is God's job to judge (and deal out grace ;)). But I do think society has a responsibility to decide certain actions as "wrong" and put offenders away in jail. Otherwise we'd be left with anarchy.

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I feel our judgements come from our ego and in the beginning it doesn't want to let go and the person is hindered by distractions and negative assumptions, but after some practice God takes over. The turmoil of sense-impressions, feelings and thoughts doesn’t stop, but the fascination with them ceases as the flow of impressions is witnessed calmly and attentively without any judgment. The mind no longer judges whether something is good or bad, but makes distinctions between the temporary impressions, events witnessed in the mind and the eternal all-pervading consciousness surrounding it. No one can be happy who lives in a negative state of condemnation, and it is not a prime factor in the building of our consciousness. If a person does not understand something that doesn't make it false, one should find out what it is about. If we take a friendly interest in the things that come to the mind, we can broaden our concept of truth and enlarge the personal powers that make a contribution to our enrichment.

 

Praise the Lord that this forum is up and running.

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I feel our judgements come from our ego and in the beginning it doesn't want to let go and the person is hindered by distractions and negative assumptions, but after some practice God takes over. The turmoil of sense-impressions, feelings and thoughts doesn’t stop, but the fascination with them ceases as the flow of impressions is witnessed calmly and attentively without any judgment. The mind no longer judges whether something is good or bad, but makes distinctions between the temporary impressions, events witnessed in the mind and the eternal all-pervading consciousness surrounding it. No one can be happy who lives in a negative state of condemnation, and it is not a prime factor in the building of our consciousness. If a person does not understand something that doesn't make it false, one should find out what it is about. If we take a friendly interest in the things that come to the mind, we can broaden our concept of truth and enlarge the personal powers that make a contribution to our enrichment.

 

Praise the Lord that this forum is up and running.

 

I see what you're saying, I guess we just see things differently :) Good to have another perspective though! ;)

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In the early 70's I taught meditation at a prison in Carson City and later formed a half-way house so they could be paroled to me. I did not meet any rapist, but I had a couple of murderers in my class. I do not condone their actions, but I did learn to like them as individuals. They became very sincere in their practise. I guess my judgements have always been wrong.

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In the early 70's I taught meditation at a prison in Carson City and later formed a half-way house so they could be paroled to me. I did not meet any rapist, but I had a couple of murderers in my class. I do not condone their actions, but I did learn to like them as individuals. They became very sincere in their practise. I guess my judgements have always been wrong.

 

Well, that's what I was trying to say. I accept that society must be intolerant of, or against, certain actions. I disagree that this must mean being against the people (while I think they should be put away in jail to protect society, I don't think this means we should personally make judgments against them personally, if that makes sense). I think it requires a lot of work to make the distinction, but I see it as an important one. So maybe we agree after all :)

 

Kudos for your work in Carson City!

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I agree we can be tolerant of people without accepting their actions.

 

:) In that case I don't think it's intolerant to be intolerant of intolerance - if their action is intolerance, we can tolerate the people without accepting their intolerance. We just have to make sure we don't become intolerant of the person behind the action. This can be difficult. Guess it's the challenge of those who wish a tolerant world :)

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Hi Mckenna:

 

I hope this isn't off topic, but one criticism of the Categorical Imperative(and the Golden Rule as well) is the dilemma of the "inquiring killer". Suppose you say" lying is always wrong". You are walking down the street minding your own business and then you see a man running down the street in terror. He runs down an alley . A few moments later a knife wielding man ,with a murderous look in his eye comes to you and asks" did you see where that guy went?"

If you answer "no" you are lying.

 

I think one way out of this dillemma is to see it (categorical imperative and the golden rule)from the killers position. If the killer was being chased by someone who wanted to kill him ,would he want you to tell that killer which way he went.

 

MOW

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Hi Mckenna:

 

I hope this isn't off topic, but one criticism of the Categorical Imperative(and the Golden Rule as well) is the dilemma of the "inquiring killer". Suppose you say" lying is always wrong". You are walking down the street minding your own business and then you see a man running down the street in terror. He runs down an alley . A few moments later a knife wielding man ,with a murderous look in his eye comes to you and asks" did you see where that guy went?"

If you answer "no" you are lying.

 

I think one way out of this dillemma is to see it (categorical imperative and the golden rule)from the killers position. If the killer was being chased by someone who wanted to kill him ,would he want you to tell that killer which way he went.

 

MOW

 

I see your point, and I like your defense of it. I think it also makes sense not to make such a broad statement as "lying is always wrong" for that precise reason. Sometimes lying is the moral thing to do, IMHO. I think there are some actions that can be broadly painted as wrong, though - such as rape.

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A holy man was scooping a scorpion out of a stream to save it and the scorpion would sting him. The man had performed this action numerous times on the journey when his companion asked him why he continues to save the scorpions and get stung in the process. The reply was it is my nature to help and it is the nature of the scorpion to sting.

 

Jesus was stuck in the side with a spear while hanging on the cross and said, "Forgive them for they no not what they are doing."

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A holy man was scooping a scorpion out of a stream to save it and the scorpion would sting him. The man had performed this action numerous times on the journey when his companion asked him why he continues to save the scorpions and get stung in the process. The reply was it is my nature to help and it is the nature of the scorpion to sting.

 

Jesus was stuck in the side with a spear while hanging on the cross and said, "Forgive them for they no not what they are doing."

 

 

Jesus here, Soma. I have some thoughts on your comments above. I feel confident you'll be able to express your thoughts at somewhat greater length so no confusion will arise in the mind of TCPC readers as to your meaning. At the moment, your post suggests you believe that just as it is the nature of the scorpion to sting, perhaps it's the nature of the rapist to rape. This confusion could arise for readers because your metaphor of the stinging scorpion follows right on the heels of McKenna's statement that "I think there are some actions that can be broadly painted as wrong, though - such as rape." I'm sure you didn't intend to shrug off such horrific crimes as being the best some poor ol' unwitting human beings can do. I feel it's important for readers to understand clearly that God the Mother and God the Father do not view egregious human crimes (eg. rape, child pornography, spousal abuse, and so on) as "scorpions simply being scorpions." God the Mother and God the Father understand exactly how beautiful each person really is (deep within, if not on the surface), and they understand exactly how much conscious choice is actively involved in the egregious human crimes I've mentioned today. Rapists do not rape because they don't understand what they're doing. Rapists rape because, in actuality, they understand exactly what they're doing. That's why they do it.

 

On a completely different note, I must say in all honesty that I can't in any way relate to the holy man you describe in your metaphor. I'm sure there are (and have been) many holy women and men who have done just such a thing as you describe -- literally picking up scorpions and being repeatedly bitten for their trouble. But those who would choose such a path to serve God aren't listening to their inner wisdom. They aren't living in the Christ Zone. They're being presumptuous. They're assuming that God wishes the scorpion to be rescued. They're assuming it's their personal destiny to do the rescuing. They're assuming the scorpion stings because the scorpion is simply being a scorpion who must sting. It's never this simple. The true holy woman or man always asks God first before reaching into the waters to rescue each individual scorpion. Perhaps it's God's plan for this being to die and return Home to heaven. Perhaps it's God's plan for somebody else to do the rescuing today (since it's everyone's true nature to help).

 

How can you tell whether you've rightly rescued a scorpion, a scorpion who wasn't ready to return Home to God the Mother and God the Father? Simple. The scorpion won't sting you, because even scorpions are capable of feeling the wondrous emotion of Divine Gratitude.

 

Amen to you and to all.

Love Jesus

 

P.S. I'm actually talking about scorpions here -- arachnids of the order Scorpionida. I'm not being metaphorical.

August 1, 2007

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With the power to think we can guide our thoughts into spiritual activities instead of just dealing with the effects. We can use visualization, concentration, imagination and realization to direct our thoughts to our soul. This brings us close to God's all-pervading consciousness in everything. Yes, in the rapist too is conscousness even though we might guide ourselves to stop or harm the rapist to stop him/her from harming another. I feel not over thinking, but just trying to think of one thing, which is God in everything protects one from negativity.

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