A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quote of the Day-- Walking the Tolerance Talk

In last week's episode of the hit TV series Glee, the acerbic cheerleading instructor Sue Sylvester revealed to her Down Syndrome-afflicted sister that she stopped believing in God because of the way she, the sister, had been treated by people who saw her as "less than perfect."

"You were perfect in my eyes," Sylvester said.

"God doesn’t make mistakes. That’s what I believe," the sister replied.

That wasn't a bad answer, but a better one might have been, "
I was perfect in God’s eyes, too

We live in an era where very few people with Down Syndrome are being welcomed into the world. Some studies suggest that perhaps 90 percent of extra-chromosome babies are aborted by parents fearful of both the challenges and societal "discomforts" that they and their babies will face.

We also live in an era where gay teenage boys and straight teenage girls commit suicide in alarming numbers due to rampant bullying. Bullies, either because they are deficient in recognizing their own God-created uniqueness, or too frightened to own it, inflict sheer hell upon the "others" around them—those vulnerable people who, for one reason or another, cannot easily reside in the increasingly brittle "norms" established within generations, cultures, neighborhoods, or even classrooms, and who cannot, or simply
will not
, hide their "otherness."

The recent, tragic, suicides of eighteen-year-old Tyler Clementi and fifteen-year-old Phoebe Prince—both bullied beyond their endurance by contemporaries, both unable or unwilling to admit into their confidence an authoritative person who might have helped—have generated a great deal of ink about bullying and how to combat it. We hear that children must be more emphatically taught "tolerance and kindness," and that awareness must be raised.

That's all well and good, but it bears mentioning that this generation of teenagers has been raised on near-daily lessons in tolerance and "everyone is specialness" from their first
Sesame Street
episode to their Senior Proms; there is a disconnect, somewhere, between theory and practice, and that disconnect is a killer.

Part of the disconnect is a society-wide inability to walk that tolerance talk. Everyone pays lip-service to the Golden Rule, but it is easy to find an intolerant anti-Catholic bigot on Huffington Post, and MSNBC or an anti-secularist one on Free Republic.com or Fox News. Our decades-long grounding in Political Correctness allows anyone to proclaim their noble, "tolerant" instincts while huddled in insulated enclaves where the limits of their tolerance are made all too plain, extending only to the like-minded.

Children and young people are not stupid. If they encounter a teacher, or a preacher, talking love and acceptance in one breath and then bad-mouthing the impolitic "other" of their own prejudices (and they do) they will reject the talk, and find their own "other" to speak against, jeer at and hate.

You can read Elizabeth Scalia's entire post, "The Tolerance Disconnect," here.

HT: Scot McKnight

1 comment:

Pumice said...

I reflect on what you say as someone who has had real world experience in being bullied. When I was in elementary school I went for a year and a half being afraid to step out of my class room. There was a boy who had been held back a couple of years and he picked me as his target. He did not pick me because I was a girl or a homosexual. It was not because I was a small weak thing. He picked me because of what he perceived as a weakness. I had been taught something from the Sermon on the Mount and really tried to live it. It involved turning the other cheek and going the extra mile. Even as a child this was important to me. He perceived this as weakness. My life was a living hell for all that time. Finally, he was harassing me in front of a girl I liked and I got mad enough to push him back. I walked away amazed. All it took to be set free was standing up for myself. This is one persons experience at one time in history but it has stuck with me.

Why did I not commit suicide? How did I make it through? I really can't remember all my thinking at that age but I am sure that it had to do with other Bible verses I had learned about the love of God and being a child of God.

Suicide is a tragedy.
Bullying is wrong.
Tolerance is dream.

Teaching people about the love of God has transformed society again and again.

Enough for one session.

Grace and peace.