Monday, October 09, 2006

Tolerance &ne Mercy

"Such as I love, I rebuke and chastise. Be zealous therefore and do penance."

In a recent e-mail, an old friend of mine stated that tolerance IS mercy. I think otherwise, and wrote the following to him:

As for mercy and tolerance, I would posit this: There are times when mercy requires intolerance. Look at the world today, and look at the conditions that we tolerate. We tolerate Arab militias to rape, murder, and pillage in the Sudan. We tolerate Maoist repression of Christians in China. We tolerate the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. We tolerate the in utero eradication of our future. Sure, we throw fund-raisers, put ads on the tele, wag our fingers at our politicians and the U.N., but nothing changes. The status quo is tolerated.

2000 years ago, when fallen Man was in direst need, God changed the status quo. Sin, and it's dominance over Man, could no longer be tolerated, which is why He sent His Son. Jesus did not tolerate sin, and exhorted us to be perfect. Not just be good, but be perfect, as God is perfect. Jesus told all He came into contact with to sin no more. Some listened, like the adultress, Zaccheus, and Nicodemus. Others could not bear His admonishments, like the wealthy man who could not give it away, and the Pharisees.

It is not merciful to tolerate slavery. Would you agree? Merton did not think that tolerating segregation was merciful. Jesus did not think that letting someone persist in sin was merciful either.

Discrimination (as in perception of difference) is vital to our ability to see need in others and to give of ourselves to fill those needs. If I see someone panhandling on the street, this discrimination comes into play. I know I am well fed, and I can tell that he is not, and that his need requires something from my bounty. If I am oblivious to all differences, I cannot know his need, and I will walk past, like all the others in their self-centered oblivion, because they can tolerate his situation.

ego quos amo arguo et castigo aemulare ergo et paenitentiam age

1 comment:

Dad29 said...

The whole concept of "fraternal correction" rests on intolerance. Therefore, it is merciful to correct, whether from intolerance of evil or otherwise.

It is, in the end, evil which we cannot tolerate.