Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sometimes, Tolerance Isn't Acceptable

It's common sense to recognize that we are all flawed. We all have qualities and quirks about ourselves that others will find fault with. Coming from a Christian viewpoint, every single one of us is born with sin already on our souls, and despite our best efforts we still commit sin every single day. We know that our free society has a justice system in place, so that when a crime is commited, we can be held accountable for our social infractions. We also know that it is not our place to judge someone for their lifestyle or their opinions or ideas.

In our efforts not to judge others, somehow we've convinced ourselves that it's NEVER appropriate to judge someone else. It's not our place to form a negative opinion about someone else based on how they live their life and present themselves. We qualify every single thing we say with "It's only my opinion, and no offense to anyone intended, but (insert religious belief or personal moral standard here)" and then still have others rip us to shreds for daring to force our beliefs on someone else.

And somehow, this is further expounded by somehow believing that no one else may voice or even hold a negative opinion about us personally. How DARE someone infringe on MY right to be an asshole if I so choose? How DARE someone criticize me if I CHOOSE something that they wouldn't!!! Like, OMG-WTF?!?!???!111!!1! As a society, we've taken not judging people to such an extreme that when it's justified, we decide it's not our business. We make excuses for people. Even breaking laws is considered "none of our business" so we stay out of a situation by not calling the police or agreeing to testify at a trial. After all, it's not our place to judge someone else. Maybe they have good reasons for stealing something, or vandalizing their ex's car. Right? RIGHT?!?

We have lost our voices. We have lost our ability to actually stand up for ourselves, out of fear that we're infringing on someone else's feelings or rights AND YET we feel we're entitled to live however we like in spite of societies laws, and screw anyone else's opinions. We have separated ourselves not only from the world, but from our own communities in favor of looking out for Number One, Me, and Mine. No one else matters.

And yet we speak out about child molesters and abusers. We support the rights of breastfeeding mothers in public and the workplace. We support the rights of parents to parent their children as they see fit. We speak out against racism when it suits us. We are gradually becoming more supportive of legal rights for gay couples. We hold that the values of family and tolerance ought to be universal. What makes these things different than standing up for the rest of our moral values? Why is it acceptable to say that racial discrimination and ideations of racial superiority and support of the idea of genocide are disgusting and even illegal, but it's not acceptable to voice the idea that illegal immigration laws should be more strict? Or that it's not acceptable to say that you believe marijuana should stay illegal? Or that it's not OK to spank our children, because it falls under parenting rights?

Yes there are things we ought to tolerate, but how do we decide what it's OK to be tolerant about? How do we come to the general conclusion that laws are laws except when it's convenient to ignore them ourselves? How is it we're not allowed to voice our own moral feelings and thoughts without someone jumping on us for being judgemental?

Honestly, we each choose our own religion (or to not have a religion) based on judgments. We choose our parenting techniques based on judgments. We choose whether or not we're going to declaw our cats and debark our dogs based on our judgments of what's humane and what's not. We choose what we eat, wear, watch on TV, what music we buy, and what town we live in based on our judgments. You couldn't get through one single day of your life without making a judgment of what's best for you, and if you couldn't decide "what's best" or "what's right" and you couldn't make choices on anything. Period. We judge when we choose to refrain from sleeping with 9 different men in one week. We judge when we choose to refrain from smoking while breastfeeding. We judge when we choose to give our children something organic and vegetarian over animal products. We judge when we choose which church we're going to attend. We choose our friends and our partners and even our children's playmates. We have to have SOME idea of what's right and wrong, or we couldn't make decisions about those things.

And yet we have lost our voices to support our feelings, and choose to be offended when someone dares to speak up. We speak up only when it's safe to do so, by society's standards.

No comments: