I’ve probably always been grumpy, but as I rapidly approach my 50th birthday I find that I’m fitting into the “Grumpy Old Woman” role very nicely.
Whilst working in the field of diversity the word tolerance has often been used. It cropped up again in responses to my last blog.
There is an old saw about being “intolerant of intolerance”, but the older I get, the more intolerant I become. And I’m not sure that’s necessarily A Bad Thing. And, more importantly perhaps, I’m even less sure about the assumption that tolerance is automatically A Good Thing.
Princeton University’s definition of the word “tolerate” is “to put up with something or somebody unpleasant”. So, people who declare themselves tolerant of people who are different from them (maybe, I don’t know, asylum seekers, or people from different cultures, or people with mental health issues, or gay people for example) are very kindly “putting up” with people they perceive are “unpleasant”?
Hmmm. Put like that, I’m not sure I would really want to be tolerated by such people!
I’m intolerant to lots of things (acceptable things to be intolerant to, like child cruelty, unfairness and bullying and unacceptable things to be intolerant to, like some differing views of mine on things such the Law of Attraction, unrelenting positivism, and blind faith).
I’m tolerant (as per the definition above) of other people’s badly behaved children and words which make me cringe, such as “coloured” and “lady” (so long as the intention isn’t to insult, otherwise I become intolerant again).
I embrace the company of people different from me, in terms of people of different faiths (if they’ve arrived at their faith through careful thought rather than blindly following those around them), different sexual orientations, different cultures and nationalities. I don’t “tolerate” immigrants – I welcome the much-needed skills they bring with them.
Someone mentioned “faux tolerance” elsewhere on this platform. I’m not sure quite what he meant, but if he meant people proclaiming tolerance whilst being intolerant themselves (something I’m frequently guilty of myself) then I’m intolerant of that too!
For example, this week the latest amendment to the Equality Bill – to permit civil partnerships to be held in religious premises – was passed in the House of Lords by 95 votes to 21. For those denominations involved – including Quakers and the Liberal Jews – this is a very important step forward. Typically, the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church still oppose it. And yet the latter two Churches preach tolerance, whilst the Scriptures they follow contain so much intolerance it’s quite frightening (e.g. a man finding his bride isn’t a virgin should stone her to death, if a child talks back to us we should kill them, and many, many more examples).
If that’s tolerance, I quite take pride in becoming increasingly intolerant!
(Settles comfortably into role of Grumpy Old Woman)
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