Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A dangerous word

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, as to be hated needs but to be seen; yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, first we endure, then pity, then embrace.

I’m not great at memorizing quotes, lacking discipline more than ability. But Alexander Pope’s has stuck with me since I saw it in a Humanities 201 class taught by Vaughn Stephenson my Alma Mater as a freshman in 1998.
Q100 here in Atlanta has a witty and clever morning show and it kept me entertained on the drive to work. About two months ago, while driving to work, I listened and the host was gone. One of the other personalities on the show was hosting and the entire 30 minutes in my car I listen to how Melissa (the token homosexual) had a new love interest and her date the night before “that started a five o’clock last night ended at three this morning.”
Hooray! Kudos! We're so happy for you've found someone to share your life with!
Haven't touched my FM dial since. I'm an AM radio devotee. 680 The Fan and Talk Radio 750.
How dare you! Where do you get off?! Why don’t you accept this as a part of life? You’re way out of line. Homophobe! Purist! Hater! Bigot! I bet you hate rap, too! Racist!
This incident was the proverbial straw breaking some poor camel’s back. Upon the breakage I’ve reflected on Pope’s quote learned eight years ago, awed at the concise encapsulation of universal truth
Good, moral people don’t embrace vice. According to Webster, vice is “moral depravity or corruption.” People (speaking generally) who go to church, contribute time and/or money to charities, pray and make choices based on Judeo-Christian models don’t embrace vice. Not yet.
What is the most dangerous word in society today? What word waits to rip the moral fabric of society, threatens peace and an individuals rights? Tolerance.
Ah Hah! I knew it! Elitist! Extremist! You think people with different views are evil! I bet you think evolution shouldn’t be part of school curriculum! You’d destroy our first amendment! Ah Hah!
Pope could have substituted ‘tolerate’ in his syllabi on moral decline, but it would've disrupted the flow. To tolerate is to endure, accept or put up with. Every major vice in the world (using the principles of provident living found in the Christianity as the standard) stems from tolerance of actions or tendencies while ignoring absolutes of consequence. An explicit personification of ‘tolerant’ behavior is Europe in the 1930’s. Their misunderstanding of the word allowed for the largest genocide in 1000 years, ended largely by an 'intolerant' voice (Winston Churchill) called to save the continent once the crisis exploded. This similar attitude is preeminent today as we face a similar threat from a crazed man in Iran who has vowed to the rid the world of the same people from seventy years ago.
People, cultures, ideas and practices should be tolerated inasmuch as the behavior isn’t condoned or excused. Newton’s third law of motion reaches beyond matter to the philosophical. Christian assertion of the virtuous instruction to love the sinner and hate the sin carries a terrible cost if abused. Dilution of the maxim’s second clause ignites this rapid pattern degeneration: love the sinner, ignore the sin; love the sinner, tolerate the sin; love the sinner, accept the sin; love the sinner and the sin.
Zealot! You far-rightwing religious fool! Religious whacko! Koresh! Crusader! Jihad! Wait…we don’t mind them, we should tolerate them. Christian!
There are sins. There are wrongs. If nothing is wrong or bad, the inverse must be true: there is not right or good. If nothing is wrong or right, what is there? The whim of the day? The will of the socially in- and af- fluent of the day. Society is as a child: if not taught right and wrong, checked when it strays and compelled to suffer the consequence of its action, it will develop habits destructive to self and those entering its circle of influence.
Who wishes they were like the brats on MTV’s Super Sweet 16, whining when they don’t get what the want, showing no appreciation when they receive what they want, walking over everyone along the way to get what they want.
We are disgusted and frustrated by that behavior! It's not right! ! But it'll be okay. We should watch them. Put up with them. Feel bad for their future. Institute programs at schools to teach better behavior. Then we'll love it.