Educational Editorial: Teaching tolerance, not love?

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Recently I spoke at the commencement for the graduating class of JEB Stuart High School in Fairfax County. The activities were held in the football stadium and the temperature hovered at 100 degrees. In full regalia we anticipated a sweltering afternoon of pomp and circumstance with much celebration but few new insights. Well, I was wrong.

The class consisted of 350 young people who had come from 80 countries. Their achievements were compelling with many stories of family hardship and perseverance. Perhaps the most challenging assignment of the day came with those who read the names. But clearly, there was care and respect in the air. There were many hugs...even for the speaker who had only known them for ten minute address. They did not seem to be moved by my age, titles, cultural or color....but simply by care.

So what did I learn?

In this sea of diversity,  no one mentioned tolerance. Often a code word for "Let everyone do their own thing." When I consulted Webster, I was astonished at the definition: "lack of opposition for beliefs or practices differing from one's own."

WOW. Does tolerance mean that we will accept any value or behavior or does it mean that we have such weak values that they do not stand under the tests of others?  It is possible that "tolerance" has in reality become the enemy of absolutes!

For those of us from a Judeo-Christian belief, it is amazing that our scriptures do not admonish us to "tolerate" our parents....or tolerate our children...or tolerate our neighbors. We are told to love them. It seems that we have more homework to do on this lesson.

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