Tolerance is a two way street

It’s a gorgeous Sunday afternoon up here in my corner of the world, the type of day that reminds me why I like living in Maine despite the challenges I face at times as a woman of color. It also happen to be Easter Sunday which as a Christian I do celebrate, yet I don’t need this day alone to honor and celebrate Jesus, its something I do every day upon waking.

I rarely discuss my faith on this blog in part because I am at stage in my faith walk where I don’t see the need to bring it up at every turn. Folks who are friends know my faith, much like they know my politics. My faith guides every area of my life even down to the professional choices I have made in the last 15 years…I am the director of a small non-profit agency that happens to be faith based. Yet the agency I run serves hundreds yearly without regards to one’s religion, I choose to work in the vein of Jesus where I try and do good to others. I am human and I fail sometimes and yet its okay.

That said, in recent years I am discouraged by the fact that we live in a time and space where acceptance of others is highly touted yet when it comes to accepting Christians, it seems acceptance goes out the window. I grew up in a world where faith wise I only knew folks who were Jewish, Christian or Muslim…in other words the big 3. Oh, and I knew a few agnostics/atheists but that pretty much was it when it came to religious and spiritual diversity.

Yet as an adult I count among my friends who practice ATR (African Traditional Religions),Pagans, Wiccans, Buddhists, and so on. Knowing these folks has added a rich diversity to my life and allowed me to think about why I chose the spiritual path that I did, I most certainly can’t say it’s because it was what I was told to do when I was a kid because when I was a kid, I rarely went to church. There was no discussion of faith, that is funny to many who know me because my father is in ordained mister, his mid life crisis entailed going to seminary and choosing an entirely different way of life than what I was raised with..it caused some ripples in our family, initially but we all adjusted. I suppose because I was not raised as a Christian it makes me unusual in that I actively sought out Christianity in my early 20’s instead of how many are raised Christian and actively seek to leave it behind in their adult years. I like to think it gives me an interesting view of the world.

I find myself growing increasingly weary of how due to the actions of some Christians that all are judged to be simple minded idiots who are intolerant. Yes there are intolerant bigoted Christians but such folks exist across the religious spectrum, but it seems Christians and perhaps Muslims (I admit I cannot speak for my Muslim brothers and sisters so correct me if I am wrong) get the bulk of the animosity and judgment. On this Easter Sunday I found myself growing angry as I hopped online briefly and checked into a few of the places I frequent when I am online such as Facebook and Twitter to see a whole lot of negative statements being directed at Christians.

It saddens me because I truly see tolerance as a two way street. Up until a few years ago, I had never heard of Samhain, yet while it’s not a holiday I celebrate it is one I have respect for because I have friends for who Samhain is an important holiday. Yet when folks belittle my faith tradition I admit the very human side of me at times wants to lash out with the same belittling that I deal with on a fairly constant basis. I write this yet not to condemn anyone but to suggest that we all be mindful in our words whether in our face to face interactions or even online. If we seek tolerance for ourselves and our families than I think its important to remember it starts with us. To ask for something we are not willing to give in many cases is not realistic.

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