A lesbian friend used to say, "I would rather be hated than tolerated."
She got me thinking about the word tolerate in a way I had not before. In the comments on my last post, Teri wrote:
archbishop of galilee) said something I'll never forget during a speech
he made in Cairo in 2006: "tolerate is what you do until you can get
rid of someone–it's very different from accepting."
And chartreuse ova added:
Like my childhood writing idol, Laura Ingalls Wilder, I felt the need to turn to the dictionary, in this case Merriam-Webster online, to seek the etymology of the word "tolerate":
- Latin toleratus, past participle of tolerare to endure, put up with; akin to Old English tholian to bear, Latin tollere to lift up, latus carried (suppletive past participle of ferre), Greek tlēnai to bear
To bear, to endure, to carry, none of these suggests full participation, does it?
As a Christian, I get a clear message from the one I follow, Jesus, to include everyone, to welcome everyone. In the United Church of Christ we speak of radical welcome, of radical inclusivity. Laws related to so-called purity did not influence his interaction with the people he met. Love your neighbor as yourself, he said. Imagine the Great Commandment if he asked us only to tolerate others?
One of the
scribes, when he came forward and heard them
disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, "Which is
first of a1l the commandments?" Jesus replied, "The first is this:
'Hear O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall tolerate the Lord
with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with
strength.' The second is this: 'You shall tolerate your neighbor as
There is no other commandment greater than these."
It's impudent and insulting, to say you "tolerate" people who are different than you are. It's code for "Well, I wouldn't say we need to round them up and kill them." The disdain implied reads clearly to the rest of us.
Enough is enough.