Editors' Note: Guest blogger Jenna Lloyd is a long-time LGBT supporter, friend and fan. Jenna previously worked as an image consultant helping transsexuals and crossdressers with their journey along the gender spectrum. She has presented at Southern Comfort and many smaller events. While not truly transgender herself, Jenna identifies as a genetic female who is heterosexual, but does, on occasion, get excited over a woman.
My ten-year-old came home from school today with a dissertation about teaching tolerance.
I really do believe that preaching Tolerance is one of the worst ideas ever. Don't misunderstand, I can certainly appreciate and support the spirit in which it came about - find a way to have everyone play nice.
Nothing wrong with that goal and "play nice" is one of my tenets in life.
The problem lies with the underlying message. Below is the definition of tolerance from dictionary.com.
tol·er·ance /?t?l?r?ns/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[tol-er-uhns] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
|1. ||a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry. |
|2. ||a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own. |
|3. ||interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint. |
|4. ||the act or capacity of enduring; endurance: My tolerance of noise is limited.|
See, tolerance implies 1) the person/action/thing being tolerated is negative or undesirable; and 2) the person who is tolerating has power or control over the situation to allow or prohibit it.
I teach my children to live by the Golden Rule - "Do to others what you would have them do to you."
How could I teach them to tolerate someone else? The implied message is that we have control over another person. Hence, someone could have control over us.
I do not want to be judged, nor do I want someone to feel they have a right to permit to or prohibit me from living my life the way I see fit - so I better not do those things to others!
As a heterosexual (mostly), Caucasian (generic) female, the day someone tells me that they are tolerating something I am doing (especially be it my race, my sexual orientation, or my gender), will be the saddest day in that person's life.
We should never promote tolerance - what we should promote is harmony.
har·mo·ny /?h?rm?ni/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[hahr-muh-nee] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
-noun, plural -nies.
|1. ||agreement; accord; harmonious relations. |
|2. ||a consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts; congruity. |
|3. ||Music. |
|a. ||any simultaneous combination of tones. |
|b. ||the simultaneous combination of tones, esp. when blended into chords pleasing to the ear; chordal structure, as distinguished from melody and rhythm. |
|c. ||the science of the structure, relations, and practical combination of chords. |
|4. ||an arrangement of the contents of the Gospels, either of all four or of the first three, designed to show their parallelism, mutual relations, and differences. | [Origin: 1350-1400; ME armonye < MF < L harmonia < Gk harmonía joint, framework, agreement, harmony, akin to hárma chariot, harmós joint, ararískein to join together] --Synonyms 1. concord, unity, peace, amity, friendship. 2. consonance, conformity, correspondence, consistency. See symmetry. 3. Harmony, melody in music suggest a combination of sounds from voices or musical instruments. Harmony is the blending of simultaneous sounds of different pitch or quality, making chords: harmony in part singing; harmony between violins and horns. Melody is the rhythmical combination of successive sounds of various pitch, making up the tune or air: a tuneful melody to accompany cheerful words.
This is the difference. Harmony is the blending of different parts to form a whole, as in music. The parts are not the same, for it they were, we would not have beautiful music, only a single tone - complete monotony.
People are the same way. We are all different, not even equal really, but we are all equally important. This is what we need to teach our children - to celebrate and appreciate the uniqueness each of us brings to the world, for the world is richer for it.
One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.