Tuesday, September 04, 2007

tolerance and intolerance

It's ironic, but the one thing that the tolerant cannot tolerate is intolerance.

If you try to impose your ideas on others, you will get thrown out of a UU church, a Pagan group, or any other group that espouses freedom of conscience.

The paradox of a multicultural society is that all must accept or at least tolerate each other for it to work. The only way this can work is through mutual listening, dialogue, patient work, forgiveness, and more forgiveness, together with an acceptance that no-one is perfect. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Qualities which are not generally apparent or widely cultivated in today's culture.

There is much discussion among Pagans (and UUs and others too) about what to do with the intolerant and those who seek to impose their ideas on others. The simple answer is, walk away - with compassion. To get embroiled in argument is just to give in to the troll.

Trolls are destructive - they seek to twist your nice inclusive liberal ideas because they (possibly subconsciously) know that's where you're vulnerable. they'll do it in real life and on the internet, and then whinge endlessly about how much you wounded them by refusing to be dominated by them, and how that makes you not really a liberal, because you tried to impose rules on them. Well let me tell you, rules are the only way we have for communicating with each other, to ensure fairness and equitability. Rules are a part of nature.

This little rant was brought to you courtesy of the latest troll to cross my path (the subject of the linked-to post).

Does this man drop by every potential new Unitarian's blog to tell them his story and try to put them off, just because he fell out with one UU congregation? (I've deleted his comments now, because I don't give air-time to trolls.)

The more I think about this, the more saddened I am that this has happened.

I declared that I have found something truly beautiful and joyful and life-affirming, and I got trolled.

Get over it, forgive, move on. Read the stories on The Forgiveness Project and ask yourself if the hurt you suffered (and inflicted) is anywhere near what those people have been through. If the people whose stories appear on that site can forgive, then so can the rest of us.

24 comments:

Jarred said...

Wow...I read a bit about this guy. I'm sorry he trolled your site.

I'm not a fan of the phrase "intolerant of intolerance," as it's usually a buzzword used by the intolerant to paint themselves as a victim. What exactly is "intolerant" about refusing to put up with another person's hostility? Perhaps it would be better to say we are intolerant of hostility, along with violence (including its non-physical manifestations) and abuse. But then, isn't everyone intolerant of these things? And shouldn't we be?

Yvonne said...

Hi Jarred and welcome

Well, I don't know how one should phrase it, but I do agree that we don't have to put up with hostility, violence and abuse.

It's possible that he originally had a legitimate grievance, but he seems to have blown the whole thing way out of proportion now.

Jarred said...

Please understand that my comments on the phrase really had nothing to do with Mr. Edgar's situation or his recent behavior. I was talking much more abstractly.

Mr. Edgar's story is something that I feel I have no firm unsterstanding of and have no business delving into anyway. ;)

Yvonne said...

Understood as an abstract comment.

I didn't want to delve into it either, but he kind of forced the issue by leaving a comment on both my posts about my first visit to a Unitarian church, which was so beautiful that I shed tears of joy. I have no illusions that the Unitarians will be chock-full of angelic people - no institution or group is - but the service was very life-affirming. And I did not need that kind of comment on my first-ever post on the subject of Unitarianism.

Yvonne said...

Hey Jarred, I came over to your site to read your blog and say hello - it's a fascinating journey you've been on. I tried to comment, but I never seem to have any luck with TypePad blogs, they always time out on me. Anyway, nice blog & site you have there.

Jarred said...

Your comment posted just fine, Yvonne. Both times, actually. Don't worry about it timing out. I get the impression my hosting provider doesn't handle the scripts that Movable Type uses very well. I keep asking myself if I think upgrading to the latest version of Movable Type would help things.

But yeah, if you post a comment on my blog in the future, assume it went, even if you get a time out error.

Yvonne said...

OK, I will :)

Who knows but an upgrade might break something else ;)

Yvonne said...

Just to be fair, here's the link that Robin posted that I deleted because it annoyed me. I very rarely delete comments, but I think it was just plain mean to try and prick my bubble like that.

Joe said...

Hey, don't be intolerant of trolls, some of them do some sterling work living under Norwegian bridges :-)

Joel Monka said...

Hi Yvonne, thanks for commenting on my blog, Cuumbaya. You asked, "Does Robin drop by every potential new Unitarian's blog to tell them his story and try to put them off, just because he fell out with one UU congregation?" Yes. He does in fact do that. And if you fail to join his crusade, merely on his word alone, you will be quoted as another DIM thinker on other blogs, or on other forums, such as Beliefnet. He didn't used to be like that, but the years have not been kind to him. You are wise not to engage him in discussion.

Yvonne said...

Alas, I did engage him in discussion, but it was a waste of time, as he has already made up his mind.

Thing is, whatever the rights and wrongs of his particular situation, all human organisations are flawed, it's the nature of organisations and humans. The alleged injustice has been investigated by the UUA, and by the court system of Canada, as far as I can gather, and both ruled that the UCM followed due process. So I can't really understand why this implies that there is a wider issue with the UUA. And the British Unitarians are not UUs anyway, so why pick on me????

I've met people like this before, and I've read quite a bit of his stuff and concluded that there is no case to answer - though I kept an open mind while reading it, I honestly couldn't agree with him.

If any of the congregation did punch him, that was silly of them, but it appears this has been going on for 20 years, so one can understand their frustration.

Robin Edgar said...

I am intolerant of hostility, along with violence (including its non-physical manifestations) and abuse. Quite regrettably however Unitarian*Universalists aka U*Us, and apparently even British Unitarians such as Yvonne here. . . are quite happy to tolerate these things taking place in their "church".

:The alleged injustice has been investigated by the UUA,

Wrong. The initial injustice of Rev. Ray Drennan`s intolerant and abusive clergy misconduct was unjustly, uneqitably and uncompassionately dismissed by the UUA`s aptly named Ministerial Fellowship Committee, whose Executive Director Rev. Diane Miller had the unmitigated gall to assert that Rev. Ray Drennan`s false and malicious labeling of Creation Day as a "cult", me as "psychotic", and my monotheistic religious beliefs as nothing but "silliness and fantasy", "seemed to us to be within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership."

:and by the court system of Canada,

Totally false. You have not a sgred of evidence to support that false assertion. Did I not suggest that you enter into a genuinely free and *responsible* search for the truth and meaning behind my protests?

:as far as I can gather,

It is quite evident that you have not tried to "gather" very far Yvonne. Try again. . .

:and both ruled that the UCM followed due process.

Wrong. Due process never came into the matter and in fact Montreal Unitarians and the UUA have made a total mockery of due process. In fact both the UUA and the Unitarian Church of Montreal have repeatedly disregarded and even outright violated many of their own bylaws, policies, and guidelines during this conflict, including most of the purported principles and purposes of the U*U community.

:So I can't really understand why this implies that there is a wider issue with the UUA.

There is a wider issue with the UUA when it fails miserably to deal appropriately with clergy misconduct of all kinds, including clergy sexual misconduct. Likewise there is a wider issue with the UUA when it does little or nothing to address the anti-religious intolerance and bigotry within the U*U religious community.

:And the British Unitarians are not UUs anyway, so why pick on me????

I seem to recall that all I did was bring it to your attention that what U*Us say in their "church" services, and how they actually behave in real life, can be two very different things. How is that picking on you?

Yvonne said...

Hmm, I shall leave the above comment in place for the sake of balance, fairness, and freedom of speech.

I think if you have a campaign whereby, any time anyone posts anything good about the UUs or the Unitarians on the web, you instantly try to burst their bubble, the person concerned is likely to feel picked on.

No wonder a lot of UU blogs don't have comments enabled.

Jarred said...

You may well be a better person than me, Yvonne.

Robin Edgar said...

Thank-you for posting my response in the sake of balance, fairness, and freedom of speech. I consider that part of doing the proverbial right thing. Many if not most U*U bloggers would have suppressed it in an effort to keep the spin in their favor.

:I think if you have a campaign whereby, any time anyone posts anything good about the UUs or the Unitarians on the web, you instantly try to burst their bubble, the person concerned is likely to feel picked on.

I do not have such a campaign. That is a misrepresentation of my "campaign". There are plenty of blog posts where people say good things about the U*Us or the Unitarians that I have not bothered to comment on. Your post may be considered to be collateral damage in this war of words. I *do* try to ensure that my legitimate grievances about various U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy (and not just those that directly affect me) are seen by as many U*Us and non-U*Us as possible. Your post ranked number one in a recent Google Blogs search on the word Unitarians. . . You said - All their hymns (some written in the 19th century), readings, and sermons affirm that the truth can be found through every spiritual path. The things that unites all people of liberal faith are shared values of love, compassion, reason, mystical awareness of Divine Love, and affirmation that all paths contain the potential for liberation.

I just made sure that you and anyone reading your post would know that what U*Us say in their hymns, readings, and sermons are not necessarily true. . . And that in my experience, to say nothing of the experience of many other people, U*Us do a poor job of practising what they preach; especially when it comes to their purported values of love, compassion, and indeed reason.

:No wonder a lot of UU blogs don't have comments enabled.

A lot of UU blogs don't have comments enabled because, in spite of fraudulently claiming to be great champions of freedom of speech and other civil liberties, many U*Us prefer to censor and suppress criticism and dissent of various kinds, and not just mine. . . U*U censorship and suppression of legitimate criticism and dissent existed long before I entered the U*U blogosphere.

Yvonne said...

My point is that you may well have been abused - it's difficult to judge the facts of the case from this distance. And I'm very sorry for what happened.

If it was me in you situation, I'd just walk away.

Of course the UUs don't always walk their talk. No organisation or individual is perfect. That is the nature of this world and the fallible people who live in it. And hierarchical churches are even worse than loosely organised ones.

In fact I had read your blog about six months ago, before I was particularly interested in Unitarianism, and concluded that it was a bit much to tar the entire UUA with the same brush after one incident (however protracted).

As to your allegations of child abuse and Nazism. Sadly every organisation contains individuals who engage in such practices and ideologies. But there are plenty of other organisations (the Catholic Church springs to mind) which have had far more cases of child abuse, and of collaboration with the Nazis. Do you post a comment to that effect on the blog of every blogger who expresses joy at going to a Catholic church?

Yvonne said...

UU safeguards are in place to prevent child abuse.

UU Grievance Procedures

Robin Edgar said...

:If it was me in you situation, I'd just walk away.

But you`re not me. Institutions count on most people just walking away from institutional injustices and abuses. That`s what institutional stonewalling and denial is all about. The institution is confident that the longer it delays justice it will most likely be successful in denying justice. I am aware of this dynamic, and long ago made it clear to U*Us that engaging in institutional stonewalling and denial would not work with me.

:Of course the UUs don't always walk their talk. No organisation or individual is perfect.

And I am not demanding perfection. I am however demanding that U*Us make a reasonable effort to actually walk what they talk rather than repeatedly and continually making a total mockery of what they talk in their rather inhuman human relations with me and other people. I am demanding that U*Us finally get around to providing some genuine justice, equity and compassion in their far from right relations with me and other victims of U*U injustices and abuses.

:That is the nature of this world and the fallible people who live in it.

That is no excuse for turning a blind eye to injustices and abuses that occur in the U*U World and making no effort to address and redress those injustices and abuses.

:And hierarchical churches are even worse than loosely organised ones.

I am not so sure about that Yvonne. The UUA has miserably failed, and has even obstinately refused, to walk what it talks in my case and in other cases of abusive clergy misconduct, including cases of clergy sexual misconduct of various kinds. Do you really believe that a hierarchical church could possibly do worse than U*Us have in my case? Do you really believe that a Catholic or Presbytarian or Anglican church would totally ignore someone protesting against church injustices for over a decade and refuse to even talk to them?

:In fact I had read your blog about six months ago, before I was particularly interested in Unitarianism, and concluded that it was a bit much to tar the entire UUA with the same brush after one incident (however protracted).

I can and will tar the entire UUA (i.e. Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston) for this "incident". The UUA is responsible for addressing and redressing clergy misconduct and has refused to do so in my case and in other cases of clergy misconduct. Anti-religious intolerance and bigotry, especially anti-Christian intolerance or what some U*Us are now calling Christophobia that is very common within the U*U World. I can and will criticize U*Us for turning a blind eye to such intolerance, and doing nothing or next to nothing to responsibly address this major failing of U*Uism. Likewise I can and will "tar" U*Us for various other injustices and abuses that they are quite aware of, but either fail or refuse to DO anything to responsibly address and correct.

:As to your allegations of child abuse and Nazism. Sadly every organisation contains individuals who engage in such practices and ideologies.

I don`t believe that I have said all that much about U*U child abuse although one can be sure that it does occur. It is one thing to have "individuals who engage in such practices and ideologies." It is quite another to have individuals in top level leadership positions who are actively promoting and/or practicing such ideologies. You have tried to minimize the allegations of the involvement of Nazi ideologues in the German Unitarian religious community but it is very clear that those allegations speak about Nazis being in very influential positions in the Deutsche Unitarier Religionsgemeinschaft from at least the early 1950s through to the 1990s or later. I first heard about these allegations directly from a German Unitarian visiting Canada for an ICUU meeting hosted by the Unitarian Church of Montreal in 2002 who complained about "Humanist" Nazis interfering with his attempts to introduce more spirituality into the Deutsche Unitarier Religionsgemeinschaft.

:But there are plenty of other organisations (the Catholic Church springs to mind) which have had far more cases of child abuse, and of collaboration with the Nazis.

Not necessarily on a per capita basis. . . In any case, just because "other organizations" may well have had far more cases of child abuse, and of collaboration with the Nazis, or any number of other injustices and abuses is no excuse for U*Us to turn a blind eye to such injustices and abuses if and when they occur in the U*U World. Nèst-ce pas Yvonne?

:Do you post a comment to that effect on the blog of every blogger who expresses joy at going to a Catholic church?

Nope. I am dealing with U*U injustices and abuses, Catholics can clean up their own mess. As can other religious groups.

Yvonne said...

Hmm, OK, I'm not you, and maybe I wouldn't walk away, I don't know.

Look, I'm just going to keep an open mind on this issue.

I'm not totally dismissing what you say, but in general the way you say it seems to me to be indicative of total paranoia and conspiracy theory.

If there is a massive case to be answered, I would have thought the media would be paying as much attention to you as they are to victims of, e.g. Catholic priests.

Christianophobia can be found in many walks of life, especially among people who have been hurt by fundamentalist Christians. Yes, Christianophobes should grow up and get over it, but it takes time to truly get over that particular hurt and find some sort of balance with regard to Christianity. I have always tried to distinguish Christians from their faith and take each Christian as I find them, but somehow the idea that their hidden agenda is to convert one to their faith is always lurking at the back of one's mind, unless they demonstrate otherwise.

Yvonne said...

Though I must say that not a single Christian gloated about my 'return to the fold' or said 'I told you so', they just said welcome aboard; nor did a single Pagan criticise it - the world must be becoming a more harmonious place :)

indrax said...

:The alleged injustice has been investigated by the UUA,

Wrong.


Is that true? They had no investigation? Funny that I remember a different version of the story.

the Unitarian Church of Montreal have repeatedly disregarded and even outright violated many of their own bylaws, policies,

Can you cite a disregarded UCM policy or bylaw?

Yvonne:
I wish you luck in your dealings with Robin. I can't devote as much time to this these days as I used to, but I'd be happy to answer any questions you have for me. My email is james.andrix@gmail.com.

-James
(aka indrax)

Yvonne said...

Can we leave this now?

As I said, I'm keeping an open mind.

Also, praying for all concerned - for justice, peace, and healing.

Yvonne said...

NB the at last comment of mine was not directed at indrax, but at a comment I decided not to include, as the discussion was just going round and round and rehashing the same old points and not really getting anywhere.

laura said...

Tolerance is overrated. We seriously need to transcend it because it keeps us locked in a viscious cycle none of us can escape.

I love this from Mohinder Singh:

“My faith tradition tells me that to have a “tolerant society” is to demean society. If I say that I will tolerate you, I am demeaning you. If I say that I will accept you, I am still demeaning you. Now if I was to say, “I will respect you,” that would be slightly better. But what if I said, “I will lay down my life for you!”? You have to try and have that kind of spirit of sacrifice.”