I was trolling (like a trolling motor, not a little creature with big hair and a jewel in it’s tummy) about on FaceBook the other day and I visited the page of a magazine to which I subscribed, when they had a print edition.* There was a posting about a book to be published and something like 80+ comments about the book. The book is a compilation of essays about women who have left their marriages to enter into same-sex relationships and the struggles they have with their identities and the what-happens-next. At first, I was a bit confused because I was not sure how that topic really related to parenting but the editor of the book was a contributor to the magazine, so it made sense that way.
Then, I did it… I read the comments. I’ve written earlier about how we seem to have forgotten how to be civil with one another, especially on the internet and this was no exception. There were a few women who disagreed with the book and it’s subject matter and questioned why the magazine would post about it. The response to that was their being called “intolerant” of alternative lifestyles. And, of course, that got me thinking… if you disagree with something are you therefore intolerant of it?
I mean, I don’t like cooked peas, carrots, that “Wisconsin Blend” of mixed vegetables (you know the one with peas, corn, green beans, and lima beans) but does that mean that I am intolerant of them? Is it wrong for you to like them even as I don’t? What about hand holding at Mass during the Our Father, or people using the Orans posture (arms extended, palms up like the priest) during the Mass or hand-shaking during the “Sign of Peace,” or liturgical dance, or applause during Mass. I really don’t like synthetic materials like rayon or polyester and I really dislike how so many cute dresses are made of rayon. All of these things I really disagree with, but am I intolerant of them?
For me, intolerance means that you wouldn’t even want the thing or person in your presence, kind of like people who are lactose intolerant cannot handle having lactose in their bodies without pain. I am sure there are some who are truly intolerant of alternative lifestyles but just because you may disagree with the lifestyle does not, in my mind, make you intolerant. One can disagree with something without refusing to tolerate the presence of the other.
Or can they?
Can you disagree without being intolerant? Is there a line: you can disagree about ideas but as soon as those ideas get personal that disagreement crosses a line into intolerance?
*for the record, this post was started back in November 2010, so I have no clue what magazine it was… but I have a strong suspicion of which one it was.