This post is part of the Love Wins series – a series of posts covering topics within the issue of gay marriage (post 1, post 2). The goal of these posts is not to convince anyone to think what I think, but to create a conversation and explore the topics together. I am not an authority figure on this issue, and will not always approach this from a highly academic perspective, but am writing as a Catholic young voice seeking the truth. I hope you’ll follow along and be part of the conversation!
People on both sides of the gay marriage debate are guilty of being mean. Plain and simple. Not everyone has been mean about it, but many people (including myself) have probably been guilty of airing an insensitive comment or two.
But this post isn’t about mean people. It’s about learning how to live around people who we disagree with on controversial, emotionally charged, issues. It’s about ordinary people confronted with a tough issue.
Ordinary people don’t usually want people to be mean to them. Nor do they go around looking for opportunities to be mean. However, even people who do their best to NOT say nasty things are accused of being intolerant bigot haters of love these days….or something along those lines. I’m talking mostly about supporters of traditional marriage. But on the flip side, some supporters of gay marriage have been subject to untrue accusations as well.
We all mostly want the world to be harmonious place, right? So it makes sense that we get mad at people who mess up our perfect plan for the world.
But we can and do broadcast our opinions and beliefs on worldwide platforms. It kind of makes me scratch my head when people start crying that someone disagrees with them after taking a stand for something. And it makes me sad that people are personally offended when a view other than their own is shared.
The thing is, putting your opinion out there is not inherently mean.
Having an opinion or belief does not mean you automatically hate people who don’t share your belief.
In the aftermath of the recent supreme court decision, I saw a friend post a lovely response article. And someone else literally commented “You are intolerant”. Like, what? Is having an opinion intolerant?
Or am I just expected to keep my mouth shut when I believe in something?
And what does tolerance even mean?
Many people use it to mean “accepting behaviors you disagree with as as good for other people, even if you think they’re wrong”. It’s used as a synonym for agreement these days. If I don’t agree with a gay marriage supporter’s view, I’m a bigot, right? Well, no.
Case in point:
“We’ve redefined tolerance to mean never disagreeing. The real definition of tolerance is first disagreeing and then putting up with the people you disagree with. You have to disagree to start being tolerant.”
I have my beliefs because they are true to the best of my knowledge. And you know what? We all have different beliefs. We don’t all agree. And that’s part of life. We have to put up with it. To strive to live together regardless of differing beliefs is what tolerance is all about. It’s not about agreeing with each other.
So here we are with different beliefs. I think you’re wrong about some things. You probably think I’m wrong about lots of things.
We don’t have to agree with each other.
But what we are obligated to do is to love each other anyway.
Every single person, regardless of beliefs, is worthy of respect and love. Nothing can change that. No matter what. Even when we have polar opposite beliefs. Our behavior should go beyond tolerance, even. I should not only tolerate you. I should love you. I want to love you, even if it’s hard. I want to be able to know and love people who are different than me, because love wins.
I’m not going to agree with everyone on everything, but love isn’t about agreeing. It’s about accepting a person as a creature with inherent dignity that nothing can change. I don’t have to accept your beliefs to love you. And I don’t have to share your position on gay marriage to be friends.
Tolerance is about doing your best to live in peace with people you are at odds with. I truly hope as our country moves forward that we can do a better job on ALL sides of keeping the peace.
We’ll talk more about this in an upcoming post on distinguishing between a person and an issue. Until then:
Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Bloglovin’ or by email to follow along during this series. And help spread the conversation by sharing this post!
Images via Hartwig HKD on Flickr.