One of the values most parents want to help their children learn is tolerance. Webster says that “tolerance is a fair and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from our own.” My grandfather said, “I believe in your freedom, but your liberty stops where my nose begins!” What he meant was your arm was free to swing, but not to hit me in the face. That produced consequences. If our tolerance includes no consequences, it can become intolerable.
G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” When does what we tolerate conflict with our conscience and how do we deal with that? At what point is the call to tolerate an act of ignoring our conscience or the consequences on our own or another’s action? Do we “tolerate” good? No, we embrace good and the behavior associated with it. We don’t tolerate our heroes; we praise them!
So, where do we stop tolerating evil? Two hundred and thirty seven years ago a group of people who believe in freedom told an English king they had had enough of taxation without representation. They founded a new nation we call America. We tolerate different opinions, speech and choices in a free society.
Many have died for that freedom we enjoy. That freedom is slowly eroding in the name of tolerance. What we are asked to tolerate is not good; it is evil. We cannot allow the death of Americans in the name of another’s religion or freedom; that is intolerable!
Parents must instill values in their children – the values of conscience and conviction that became the foundation of our nation. Strong effort should be rewarded and bad behavior should be punished. Lack of effort must not be rewarded. Parental leadership can distinguish between personal attitudes and intolerable behavior.
If we fail to instill these values in our children, our nation’s next generation will be lost in a sea of indirection. Perhaps we need to hear Albert Einstein saying again: “Never do anything against conscience, even if the state demands it.” Only those who have not lost their consciences can help those who have to rediscover theirs! Think about that!