For me, and for many others I suppose, my response and reactions to certain things have changed over the years. I went from being one of those really annoying judgmental, goody two-shoes, it’s either black or white type of people, to being generally more relaxed and accepting of things, and I don’t know that it’s a very comfortable place to be in.
I guess the biggest challenge with this accepting, tolerating attitude is the fluidity/flexibility of it all. I think there’s something in our nature that makes us more comfortable with structure. We generally don’t like fence sitting. You’re either here or there. That way, you’re transparent, your principles and values are clear-cut, and everyone knows exactly where you stand. The Bible even says it in Revelations 3:14-16—“So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” It’s just so much easier to interact with people when we know exactly where they stand with things. Besides, how else do you let others know what you are/aren’t okay with?
As a Christian, one of the biggest challenges for me is being aware of right vs. wrong, but at the same time, being accepting of everyone including those that might be doing “wrong” and not judging them. You know, the whole hate the sin, not the sinner thing? (Not that I don’t sin too o). And from the way I see it, calling somebody out on something isn’t necessarily judging, but somehow it seems that the two cannot be mutually excluded.
(Of course they are, but the line is just so thin!)
And with all these issues such as homosexuality, gender fluidity, transgenderism, etc. that we are urged to be accepting of, you will find that one of the most common responses after “It’s just wrong!” or “Religion/The Bible condemns it” or “It’s not the normal order of things” is:
How far does it go? OR Where do we draw the line?
In other words, if in an attempt to be accepting of others, we say these things are okay, then what happens when for instance, someone decides that they love their pet and want to have sexual relations with it? (Bestiality) OR that they want to have sex with their family members because they are attracted to them? (Incest), OR the most interesting one I have heard so far: self-marriage, like this lady and this lady did.
What really worries me about all of this is the possibility that a lot of people don’t actually support/condone some of these things, as much as they derive humor and gist from them. Because let’s be honest, a lot of these things make for good memes, jokes, and sweet gist. Take for example, our dear friend Bobrisky or Nigeria’s male Barbie, as he likes to call himself. Before I realized who/what he was, I had been hearing Bobrisky this, Bobrisky that, “You need to follow this Bobrisky guy”. I swear I thought he was a Falz/Bollylomo type of comedian, until I followed him on Snapchat and realized that he’s just an (INSERT ADJECTIVES) attention-seeking individual who can’t speak proper English, and is just trying to sell his “skin care” products.
Before you start thinking this is a personal attack on the “different forms of gender/sexuality that exist”, let me shift the focus to something a little bit different. Take Nigerian men for example, and the whole “all Nigerian men cheat” debacle. Obviously, not all Nigerian men cheat (God, I really hope so), but I think a huge part of why the Nigerian men cheating-culture still exists can be attributed to the tolerance that women AND society in general, have shown towards that particular behavior. Without going too much into it, I think that a good number of these Nigerian men continue to cheat because their wives/girlfriends, and OF COURSE the people they cheat with, haven’t really shown them that enough is enough.
Take note, I said shown, not told; two different things—it is one thing to say something, and it is a different thing to show it—actions speak louder than words, abi?
Anyways, these actions are somehow almost always forgiven/excused, so the men take that as: this is an okay thing to do, and they keep doing it.
Basically, people only do the things you permit them to. (Also see Thorndike’s Law of Effect)
The point of this article is literally the principle behind positive reinforcement—the addition of a reinforcing stimulus following a behavior that makes it more likely that the behavior will occur again in the future. That is, when a favorable event/reward occurs after an action, that behavior will be strengthened.
Let us even consider racism (and this can be applied to any other –ism that exists out there). We might all think of course racism is objectively wrong, and skin color doesn’t make any race superior or inferior to the other. Right? Cool. But there are still racists somewhere out there that in 2016 still think that there’s something inherently inferior about having dark skin. And who are we to hold them against it? It’s what they believe, and it’s part of the values they hold dear, so why is it not okay? Now do you see where I am coming from? This whole “everyone is entitled to their opinions”, “to each his own” business can be quite tricky.
This can be a very difficult place to be, I know. And like I stated earlier, it is a struggle for me too. I don’t claim to know what the right thing to do in this case is, but I just hope that we’re aware of our reactions to certain things, and I would advice that we check ourselves, and some of the things we might be perpetuating in an attempt to be tolerating and accepting of everyone.
So, should we accept EVERY and ANY thing? I doubt it. Is EVERY behavior tolerable? I don’t know. Is it okay to go against our values in order to accommodate other peoples’ views? Only God knows.
One suggestion I have though, is that to be sure of your stance on some of these issues, ask yourself: “Will I be okay if someone close to me, or someone I care deeply about engages in such behavior(s)?” And in my experience, it works. I actually have a friend I particularly enjoy having these “life” debates with because she’s one of those cool headed, I don’t want to upset anyone kind of people, so she claims that she’s okay with all these issues until:
ME: “Will you be okay if someone prayed/wished that your child turns out to be that way?”
HER: “That’s not a really nice thing to wish for someone.”
And I’m like “But you just said it was okay!”
But what do I know? I’m still navigating my way through life; I don’t even know the half of it! What I do know is: YES, everyone has the ability to make their own choices, but there are also good and bad choices. It’s up to you to pick which way you (and possibly those around you) will sway.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime