Thursday, February 9, 2006

The Third Mate calls all hands to the capstan for an uncharacteristic sermon…

"Shipmates, when did we become ‘tolerant?’ ‘Tolerant’ is an insulting shorthand, an idle buzzword, representing to some the lame inability of a society to welcome and assimilate. A ‘tolerant ship’ is a ship that dumbly endures the annoyance inflicted upon it. Shipmates, we need another word.
"‘Tolerance’ is a dismissive term, making the inattentive feel justified in their detachment. ‘Tolerance’ is an abused word, misapplied and surrounded by sophistry and delusion. The reproachable mockingly insist upon tolerance. Offensive and unpleasant practices are forced upon us, and our hands are tied by our ‘tolerance.’ We need another word, shipmates.
"The violent and hateful demand the refuge of tolerance, vindicating their anti-social habits, denying culpability or responsibility. Their transgressions become like rights to them, and they arrogantly expect to be ‘tolerated’ in their vice. The sin of pride makes them blind to their own arrogance and depravity. They may insist that they are being prosecuted, and cannot understand why they are the offensive miscreants who need correction. We need another word.
"We need a word which denotes acceptance of that which is right and good and proper. An active and generous word which says we understand that which enriches our lives. A word which asserts the positive aspects of our truly welcome shipmates. A word which corrects and shuns the unwelcome. A word which congratulates acceptance. And we must be brave enough to teach it correctly, to apply it deliberately, and to enforce it impressively.
"With that word, we can turn the violence away. With that word, we can cast away the ignorant, the hateful, the vicious. With that word, we can embrace the good, the worthy, the mates who add their enriching voices to our song. With that word, we will all sing proudly.

"That word, shipmates, is ‘Love.’"

(For David on the occasion of Amy Lowell's birthday.)