Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mary Dyer, Pontius Pilate and Tolerance, Oh My!

Statue of Mary Dyer in front
of the Massachusetts' State House
Today's Mass Moments is about Mary Dyer.  Actually, it's about the Puritans rejecting the Quakers, but Mary Dyer was martyred because of the intolerance of the Puritans.  It is because Mary Dyer wouldn't shut up.  She kept returning to preach her beliefs.

Both sides in this instance, display intolerance.  However, tolerance is a confusing virtue.  In fact, some philosophers and theologians argue that tolerance is not a virtue.  Jacques Maritain points to Pilate's question, "What is truth?" as not being tolerant but rather betraying the concept of tolerance.  When one has the truth, then accepting falsehoods is wrong.

Both the Puritans and the Quakers thought they had the truth.  The trouble lies not so much in their beliefs but in their pride.  Their pride led them to bully others. Tolerance does not require one to deny their own personal belief.  Rather, you retain your truth and also respect others' beliefs.  Tolerance is honoring truth, which Pilate did not.  Pilate betrayed tolerance in allowing himself to be bullied into accepting something he didn't want, nor believe.  He was an ignorant coward.

Tolerance should be positive and life-giving (display love for others).  You don't give up your beliefs; you try to understand others and exchange ideas.  Of course, you want to convince them to see your truth, but you should realize that they may not see what you do.

Neither Mary Dyer, nor Plymouth Colony, nor Massachusetts Bay Colony understood the concept of tolerance.  Pilate in not accepting the truth standing before him allowed himself to be bullied into accepting the popular opinion.  Why wasn't Christ tolerated?  

So much for tolerance!  It is a confusing notion.

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