Guest Blogger

Tolerance - Just Say NO!

Filed By Guest Blogger | December 07, 2008 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: image consultant, Jenna Lloyd, just say no, Southern Comfort, tolerance

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.

image001.jpgMy ten-year-old came home from school today with a dissertation about teaching tolerance.

Ack!!!

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     [tol-er-uhns] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation

-noun
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     [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]

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.

~ Franklin Thomas


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Could not agree with you more. Tolerance also implies that the person being tolerance is such a good person and needs to be seen as such. As you point out, the only reason that is true is because the thing that they are tolerating is so bad.

Harmony is one approach, true respect for diversity is another. I'm often annoyed that many of the proponents of diversity are bigots in respect to some groups.

I like the suggestion for harmony. As a kinda-sorta amateur musician, I see harmony as something you work hard on. You have to listen to the others you are trying to be in harmony with to succeed with the harmony. So harmony is the ultimate expression of respect, working hard in listening to the various tones that different people make in their lives before making your own noise.

All very nice and sweet sentiments however I'm much more practical minded and don't give a fig if someone "loves and embraces" me or merely tolerates me if I get a level playing field in life.....and that's the bottom line when you've live with discrimination on the basis of religion, being a feminist, ageism and have a trans/intersexed background. See Abe Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Time enough for the world to learn to sing in perfect harmony after it first learns about certain inalienable rights endowed by the Goddess simply for being. Let's not put carts before horses just for feel good points.

Hi Cathryn,

My post is not about all of us huddling around a campfire singing Kumbaya, it is about each of us living our lives individually. And without restriction or fear of retribution for having a life path that falls outside of societal norms, which is incorrectly perceived as a threat by those filled with fear and insecurity.

You put in a quote that I said “loves and embraces”, but I never wrote about loving or embracing anyone. As much as I wish it were possible, it is ridiculous for me to spout out "Universal Love." As humans, we are far too imperfect, too emotional, and insecurity-driven to embrace that concept with any wide-reaching success. The best I can achieve in my own heart is love, like, don’t care, or “stay the Hell away from.” Why would I expect more from the rest of the World? I do apply the Golden Rule in life. I don’t want to be judged; therefore, I work hard not to judge others.

If you re-read my post, the theme is that harmony works because the notes are different from one another AND they are indifferent to that fact. They each go about their purpose oblivious to the others. Sometimes the sounds they make together are incredibly beautiful, the whole being greater than the sum of the notes, other times not-so-much, and still other times like nails on a chalkboard.

I consider myself pragmatic, as well. Outside of my children or partner, why should it matter to me if a man is attracted to other men? It doesn’t. My life is unaffected if my neighbor, co-worker, or a stranger I see at the mall presents as male when they sport a vagina – no matter how obvious it may or may not be.

And, even if the person at hand is my child or my partner, if may affect me, but it still does not give me the right to judge. The day I am perfect I will cast my first stone. Nobody has to worry about that happening any time soon.

What if I fall in love with another woman? Like you, (outside of my kids) I couldn't care less if someone approves of, disapproves of, or embraces my life or lifestyle. Now, Heaven help the person who tries to impose their dominance in my world.

As for living by the Golden Rule, I believe that it is no one’s business how I live my life, so that is how I choose to treat others. I’ll spend my time cleaning up my own side of the street before I waste my life trying to oversee anyone else’s. (My control freak parenting aside, of course. :))

Hi Cathryn,

My post is not about all of us huddling around a campfire singing Kumbaya, it is about each of us living our lives individually. And without restriction or fear of retribution for having a life path that falls outside of societal norms, which is incorrectly perceived as a threat by those filled with fear and insecurity.

You put in a quote that I said “loves and embraces”, but I never wrote about loving or embracing anyone. As much as I wish it were possible, it is ridiculous for me to spout out "Universal Love." As humans, we are far too imperfect, too emotional, and insecurity-driven to embrace that concept with any wide-reaching success. The best I can achieve in my own heart is love, like, don’t care, or “stay the Hell away from.” Why would I expect more from the rest of the World? I do apply the Golden Rule in life. I don’t want to be judged; therefore, I work hard not to judge others.

If you re-read my post, the theme is that harmony works because the notes are different from one another AND they are indifferent to that fact. They each go about their purpose oblivious to the others. Sometimes the sounds they make together are incredibly beautiful, the whole being greater than the sum of the notes, other times not-so-much, and still other times like nails on a chalkboard.

I consider myself pragmatic, as well. Outside of my children or partner, why should it matter to me if a man is attracted to other men? It doesn’t. My life is unaffected if my neighbor, co-worker, or a stranger I see at the mall presents as male when they sport a vagina – no matter how obvious it may or may not be.

And, even if the person at hand is my child or my partner, if may affect me, but it still does not give me the right to judge. The day I am perfect I will cast my first stone. Nobody has to worry about that happening any time soon.

What if I fall in love with another woman? Like you, (outside of my kids) I couldn't care less if someone approves of, disapproves of, or embraces my life or lifestyle. Now, Heaven help the person who tries to impose their dominance in my world.

As for living by the Golden Rule, I believe that it is no one’s business how I live my life, so that is how I choose to treat others. I’ll spend my time cleaning up my own side of the street before I waste my life trying to oversee anyone else’s. (My control freak parenting aside, of course. :))

I'm also uncomfortable with tolerance per se, but I don't think it's for the same reasons.

Tolerance for the sake of tolerance is a bad idea, simply because some things are horrible and should not be tolerated. Ironically I agree with James Dobson when he says he's against moral relativism and "anything goes" permissiveness. Only he's got it backwards, he's the one who needs to be checked and restrained, it's his beliefs that aren't supported by any objective evidence, and it's his "morals" that are offensive and have no basis in reality or common decency.

I don't tolerate homophobia, nor do I tolerate things like intelligent design. I won't tolerate any particular religion telling me they are right and everyone else is wrong. I won't tolerate anyone who thinks they have the right to infringe on the rights of others.

We shouldn't tolerate things that are harmful, ridiculous, or both. We can't "agree to disagree" with bigotry or ignorance.

Hi Eshto,

My post was strictly targeted at an individual level about people’s lifestyles. When you say you don’t tolerate homophobia, how do you apply that to interactions in your day-to-day life?

You meet “Joe” and realize he suffers from homophobia, what do you do? You can try to educate him if you want, but if that doesn’t work, the best you can do is to avoid him. What other moral and legal solution should there be? You cannot force him to be non-homophobic. Tolerance or intolerance is not the correct answer. He is entitled to his belief system just as much as you are entitled to yours. The answer isn’t agree to disagree, but to understand that however pathetic Joe’s belief system may be, it’s none of anyone’s business - as long as he is not attempting to force his beliefs on others or harming anyone.

What society cannot allow is if Joe chooses to act on his homophobia in a way that is harmful to yourself or others. And that is a completely different subject.

I agree wholeheartedly. How would the heterosexual cisgender world feel if we started just 'tolerating' them? We can't just tolerate them, we have to live and let live and isn't that all that we are asking for?

Yes, we do live different lives in some ways, but I really cannot see the where these differences intersect.

My relationships with other women change nothing for heterosexual men or women: There's no common interest for a relationship, so why worry? The fact that I'm a trans woman changes nothing either... If I'm going to enter into a relationship with someone, they will know about this early on and if it doesn't work for them the relationship goes no further.

My work life, my shopping trips in town and my visits to restaurants (i.e. the rest of my life) have no intersection with my gender identity or my sexual orientation.

Why should they have to just tolerate me when they have no intersection with the parts of my life which are different from theirs?

Gee Emily.......
For the sake of discussion, I'm heterosexual and post everything intersexed, consider myself more "cis" than anything else. Using those terms to separate yourself accomplishes little IMHO. I "tolerate" bigots myself, to the extent they keep their bigotry out of my face. They can be trans people, gay men, lesbians as well as straights and totally gender normative. Bigotry knows no sexual orientation or gender identity. Just food for thought.

Hi Emily,

That is why I actually believe in a variation of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy of the military.

If the world applied that on a broad spectrum, life would be great. Because in our day-to-day lives, why does our gender, our sexual orientation, our racial heritage matter, our size, etc. matter? None of it makes any quantifiable difference.

If we take the true opposite of "don't ask don't tell", we could all walk around like personal ads with little name badges that read "SHWF" or "GBTSF". Wouldn't that be ridiculous?

Yet, if, at an individual level, we apply a "don't ask, don't tell, don't judge" philosophy to those around us, the world would truly be a much better place.