Friday, January 26, 2007


Having grown up in an evangelical Christian environment, tolerance was always sort of a bad word. Well, I also attribute the automatic shiver that goes down my spine when I hear the word to a teacher screaming, "I will not tolerate this behavior!"

A strange word to be certain. A concept that is certainly glorified in our society. But the thing is, I mean the question I ask, is what is tolerance? And is such a thing really possible? Are we truly more tolerant as a society now than in the past? And has the journey towards tolerance affected our society in negative ways as well as positive ones?

Where is this coming from? you may ask. The recent events going on at the Grey's Anatomy set sparked this line of thought for me. I blogged about it a bit before, but I've also wasted some time reading various reports on it and different viewer forums. Overwhelmingly, people are calling for Isaiah Washington to be fired and calling him assorted names that are presumably more acceptable than the one he called TR Knight. And the anger....the anger directed at Isaiah, at ABC, at Shonda Rhimes, really really surprised me. Even after Isaiah apologized, met with GLADD leaders, and checked into some sort of rehab, people persist in their stance that he should be fired, and quite honestly, that he is unredeemable.

Tolerance? For TR Knight, yes. For Isaiah Somehow and for some unknown reason, it is acceptable to rip the man to shreds based on a few incidents, that were shocking and reprehensible yes, but of which we do not have the full story. A few incidents which cannot and should not define him as a person as a whole. How can we judge anyone on a few moments in their lives when they chose to hate instead of love?

So maybe yes, our society has become more tolerant. But by no means has tolerance made us more forgiving, understanding, or loving. In fact, it's quite possible, it has merely shifted the fuel of our hatred.


~ jen ~ said...

Tolerance, like respect and love, is a two-way street. We are expected to "tolerate" anyone with a different lifestyle or belief / value system from our own. We should also be "tolerant" of those who are intolerant of others' differences. Like I said, it works BOTH ways!

Amy said...

Agreed. Tolerance as an ideal is actually impossible to obtain.

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