Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Intolerance & Ignorance

I don't really want to re-hash the last debate, but it is my blog so I get the last word :) Something that really bothered me about the whole thing and about controversial topics in general is that if someone stands up for what they believe and it happens to not be "in vogue" at the time, they are automatically labeled "ignorant" and "intolerant". These two words are grossly misused and overused. The arguments made that were accusing me of being intolerant lack good logic. Example:

Person A: My view is that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Person B: My view is that marriage is between two people who love each other.

Here's the common problem. Person B accuses Person A of being intolerant. But their accusation of intolerance is in itself, intolerance! If Person B truly embraced tolerance, then they would welcome another view that is different from theirs, like Person A's views. But this doesn't happen. Instead, they are only tolerant of those who agree with them.

Tolerance is not acceptance, it is tolerating. Only in recent years has it taken on a whole new meaning. In our society tolerance now means rejecting all moral absolutes. It means that no one can say that there is right and wrong because it is up to each individual to decide that for him or herself. 'Who are we to judge?' is the common refrain. This logic is problematic when carried out to its neccesary conclusions. Can we say with certainty that murder is wrong? Can we say with certainty that stealing is wrong? If the answer is yes, and I believe it is, we are in essence "judging" the person who did those things, and with good reason. What if I said, "Well, in the name of tolerance, I must accept that for this individual, murdering is ok between him and his god." No way. This whole tolerance issue is a slippery slope.

I believe there are moral absolutes in the world that both Christians and non-Christians can agree on. I just find it so ironic that the people who are the most vocal advocates of "tolerance" are also the ones that show no tolerance for those who disagree with their views. Don't get me wrong, this goes both ways! Person A in my example can be equally as intolerant of other views, like the people who terrorize and harrass gay couples who get married. I don't agree with gay marriage and I will vocalize that opinion, but I don't go around harrassing people who do. I tolerate them and understand that we live in the same community and may share things in common. But I am allowed to think that gay marriage is wrong and STILL be tolerant of those who think it is not. Just like someone can believe gay marriage is great and STILL be tolerant of those who think it is not.

Ignorance is a separate argument, but the same logic applies. If you disagree with the mainstream in our society, you are labeled "ignorant". Ignorant means lacking knowledge, learning or information. If you put four people in a room and present to them the same facts, you can still end up with four different interpretations or opinions. People are different, praise God! I'm glad we are not all the same. My point is that just because someone disagrees with you does not mean that they lack knowledge, learning or information. Calling someone ignorant implies that if they had the knowledge you had, they would agree with you. That is simply not how things work. People genuinly disagree over the same information and to call someone ignorant who simply disagrees is arrogant and not an appropriate use of the word. I know some very intelligent, learned people who believe different things than I do. I would never call them ignorant because they aren't, they just have arrived at a different conclusion than I have. That is alright.

People are allowed to have opinions and differences. We do not have to denounce our deepest beliefs and convictions in the name of tolerance. But, we do need to treat all people with dignity and respect.


Gillian said...

I love this. The first paragraph sums up so many problems so well. I second the submission and gender roles post for next month. Who knows perhaps you are the next big Christian blogger?

mallory said...

I'm so glad you liked it. I've talked to many people who hold more conservative views on different issues and are all tired of being called ignorant. I feel like this will resonate with anyone who has stood up for something other than the societal norm. Keep the comments coming and stay tuned for a gender roles and submission article :)

Michelle said...

Hi Mal! I love reading your blog so I can see how you, jackson, and parks are doing in Virginia Beach- Ryan, myself, and the rest of the community group really miss you all! I just wnted to encourage you after your last few are completely standing on God's Word and proclaiming His truths, and doing it in a respectiful and thoughtful way! I'm impressed that you refrained from "defending your faith" to people who only want an arguement, in the way that so many of us feel like we have to these days and which never leads anywhere anyways! Instead, you just stood firm on the truth and I loved your comments about tolereance and ignorance...I couldn't agree more! I hope you're doing well :)

Grace said...

Couldn't agree more. Gold star for spreading the truth in a such a gracious way!

Megan said...

Very well written and very true!

lifewiththemorgans said...

Being that there were so many comment last night by people hiding in the dark.. I wanted to let you know that you have yet another reader who enjoys your blog! I have no idea how I found your blog, but I enjoy it. I think I was reading a friend of a friend of a friend's blog (or something like that) and you had a post about Whole Foods that caught my attention. I don't always have the same ideas exactly as you do, but I enjoy reading blogs and seeing how minds work and how they handle various things in life. Thanks!

mallory said...

Grace- Thank you!

Lifewiththemorgans- Thanks for your comment and I'm glad you enjoy the blog! It's so fun to "meet" new people through blogging.

Jason said...

I'm not sure if you watch The Daily Show, but this post reminds me of a statement Jon Stewart made a few nights ago. Responding to a statement Sean Hannity made about fighting against the tyranny of the Obama administration, Stewart said, "I think you're confusing tyranny with losing." Politics aside...democracy goes both ways, just as tolerance does.

ClaireWilliams said...

Hi Mallory! Man oh man you sure got people talking with the last few posts! I mean one day I checked your blog and we were talking about rice cereal and then next, the discussion turned slightly more serious! I think you did a great job of clearly explaining your beliefs and backing them up. I love a good debate and even though I agreed with more of what you said..I couldn't stop reading all the comments and your posts that followed! I was hooked!

Parks looks happy and healthy! I have to admit, that we (the Williams fam.) are jealous that Jack doesn't have half the hair that your little man does!

Have a happy Easter!

Larissa said...

Preach it! Thank you. I have had this argument in my head for so long, and glad to see that you eloquently put it into words.