Academic journal article MELUS

Letter to the Hawaii Conference, 1997

Academic journal article MELUS

Letter to the Hawaii Conference, 1997

Article excerpt

April 7, 1997

Dear MELUS-FOLK in Convention Assembled:

Since I cannot travel to be with you, I have spent many hours imagining what I would say were I there.

Let me start on a controversial mode. Here is my advice:

Don't practice tolerance! It's not our style.

Have you seen those slogans on envelopes that come in the mail, probably from well-meaning people? "Practice Tolerance."

"Tolerance," to me means holding to an intractable belief in the superiority of one's self, and, therefore, of one's own peculiar culture and life-style. In other words, I "see" tolerance as a put-down: cultural, religious, social ... "You are not like me but you can't help it, so I must try to get along with you in a kindly way."

Not only is this arrogant and stupid: it deprives them ("the tolerators") of challenge, of enlightenment, of fellowships and friendships. Too bad!

Have I come to sound more positive rather than just picking on somebody's well-meant good idea?

Maybe the effort to practice tolerance was an initial goal for many of us as we tried to read the works or hear the voices of people strikingly different from us. …

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