A radical proposal from an ancient Rabbi
I refuse to tolerate people any more. It’s been the supposed route to integration between differing groups of people for many years now. When someone is different from us, we are told we must tolerate them. We talk about our country being a tolerant country, a country where we are encouraged to find ways to, er, put up with each other in spite of our many differences.
I am not going to do this any more. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of tolerating people. Not because it is hard work – it’s not; it’s easy – but because it’s not enough. Sure, it’s better than oppressing people who aren’t the same of us. And it’s several steps above hatred. But, really, how has tolerance truly brought different communities, races, and groups together?
So, no, I’m not going to do this whole tolerance things any more. It’s too easy and it falls too far short. Instead, I want to do something radical.
Several thousand years ago, a certain Jewish Rabbi, began a revolution among his followers when he taught them to, ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. Notice they were told to love their neighbours – not merely tolerate them.
Tolerance is shallow and ineffectual; love is deep and powerful and embracing. Love transforms relationships. It bridges divides rather than merely turning a blind eye to them. Love sacrifices its own needs for the greater good. Love puts others first. Love welcomes and includes. Love fights for strangers – it doesn’t just put up with them. Loves stands up for the oppressed, love fights for what is right. Love, to borrow from the writings of another ancient teacher, never fails.
Love is what I want to give my life to. Love is what our country needs. Not some soppy, romantic, touchy-feely love; but true, sacrificial, bridge-building, all embracing love.
During all the talk of immigration in the build up to the recent referendum on our membership in the EU, there has been ugly undercurrent of ‘us and them’ to the discussion. And yes, more than just a hint of racism too. I’m not here to make a political statement about the right or wrong approach to immigration; I am here to say that the way of love will always be to embrace people who are different from us. There is no place for xenophobia in our country today. Let’s choose love.