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If you pay attention to the news these days, you may be noticing more and more that people are increasingly intolerant of each other. I’m not referring specifically to conservatives versus liberals, one particular race versus another, one particular faith versus another, etc., I’m referring to just people in general.

At a time when society has declared for itself that tolerance (despite it’s typically misused meaning) is the supreme virtue by which all shall be judged, it’s interesting to see the very people demanding tolerance are precisely the ones who are intolerant of others.

So we live our lives in disdain of each other, harshly judging those people who might be out of compliance with even the slightest iota of our personal beliefs and writing them off as unimportant. We completely ignore the person in the car next to us, the woman behind the checkout counter, the neighbor a few houses down or in the apartment across from ours.

We fill our day with our own concerns and worries, not noticing the lonely widow mowing her own lawn, the single guy who eats lunch by himself every day or the man sitting across from us in the conference room who just had his children taken away from him by a judge, a lawyer, and the woman who had promised to love him forever.

We blast people who comment on internet news and opinion sites with disparaging and deprecating words. The encounters we have with people day-to-day are rendered meaningless because we are so wrapped up in ourselves. But, I know this is not what God intended…

In the Gospel of John, Christ told his apostles, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:35). And in the Gospel of Matthew, He says, “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:47)

So if we call ourselves Christians, we must take the command to love very seriously and in doing so, open our eyes and take note of the people God has put in our paths. But not only that, we need to treat them with dignity, fairness, patience and compassion. Whether we know them or not, like them or not, this is precisely the point where love is supposed to begin, for if you are incapable of loving someone for even a moment, how in the world do you expect to love someone for a lifetime?

I read an interview recently with the actor, Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings, 50 First Dates, Rudy, to name a few of his movies) in which he noted his parents, actors John Astin and Patty Duke, always brought him up with the idea that treating people well was a requirement, not an option.

In the article, the actor talks about the frustration he felt toward his father when he made the family late to an event because his father had stopped to talk to someone and took the time to find out his name and a bit of information about him.

Being gracious to people was nice, sure, but was it always necessary? “Well, just shoot me in the head,” he reports his father saying, “because that’s life; every human interaction is sacred.”

Our human interactions are supposed to be sacred! Sacred in the sense that a) everything we do each day should be moving us closer to heaven and b) Jesus commanded us to love one another (John 13: 34-35).

I remember in the days that followed 9/11, people were unbelievably nice to each other, considerate on the roads and in line at the market. It was almost as if we had the reality of that sacredness knocked into us and for the first time in a long time, we actually saw each other and we became interested in what was happening with each other.

Maybe we can bring that idea back to the forefront of society—the idea that love between human beings is sacrosanct—and not let it die. I pray for it, pray that it’s not too late. As Catholics, maybe we can take this bull by the horns and through our commitment to Christ, become the catalyst for reviving a tone of true tolerance and love for family, friends, and citizens.

As always, I love hearing your comments and answering your questions at asklisa@catholicmatch.com.

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13 Comments

  1. Lisa-933589 July 1, 2013

    Lisa,

    Maybe we can bring that idea back to the forefront of society—the idea that love between human beings is sacrosanct—and not let it die. I pray for it, pray that it’s not too late. – See more at: http://www.catholicmatch.com/blog/2013/07/taking-the-sacred-bull-by-the-horns/#sthash.JdWdN34W.dpuf

    Thank you for this post, it really speaks to the bigger issue on and off CM. It is disheartening at times to see people losing basic manners, concern and interest towards one another. It seems to be happening rather quickly and it is everywhere- there are several posts about this- I cant help but think that so much technology has also disconnected people from neighbors-and resulted in less intimacy and more surface, quick interactions…people are plugged in, tuned out and not present to what is going on around them.

    Our human interactions are supposed to be sacred! Sacred in the sense that a) everything we do each day should be moving us closer to heaven and b) Jesus commanded us to love one another (John 13: 34-35).

    This is a good reminder to continue to extend a hello or smile to those I meet as I go out and about daily affairs, to make those phone calls an plans to visit the nearest and dearest, and as a single person- use my time wisely in the world to connect on heart level in person-less computer, phone and even online dating…

    It would be great if CM sponsored more social evernts, volunteer opportunities and ways for singles to reach out in community while discerning relationships & building foundation….it would also add to the community so much, and create connections in real life- and make a difference…just a thought.

    Peace be with you!
    Lisa

    • Victor-544727 July 2, 2013

      “It would be great if CM sponsored more social events, volunteer opportunities and ways for singles to reach out in community while discerning relationships & building foundation…”

      This is a subject that comes up from time to time, usually from newer members such as yourself. CM never has and does not presently sponsor directly promote any of the events and other gatherings. Unfortunately, it is something the good people who operate this site have chosen not to become directly involved in. Events and other CM gatherings are planned and hosted by the members on this site. CM’s only involvement in these events is providing the medium to promote them.

  2. Nilda-834707 July 1, 2013

    Thank you, Lisa. Love your article. As a child, my mom would gently smile when interacting with people we met along the way. She also taught us to say nice things about people, and to remain silent if we didn’t have anything good to say about them. As cradle catholics, we were taught these fundamental moral rules. These are the blessings that come with our christian faith.

    God bless.
    Nilda

  3. John-917143 July 1, 2013

    What a great article Lisa. It truly is disheartening how people nowadays are less tolerant and loving of others and are more judgmental and critical if anything. Even the smallest or pettiest of things can elicit a harsh remark or a demeaning stare instead of a helping hand or even lending a listening ear. I was guilty of this many years ago but God opened my eyes and my heart. If only people could learn to do the same.

  4. Gozie-971475 July 2, 2013

    Good Job Lisa. You we all talk about how intolerant people can be to others or not loving as our Lord commanded us to. We always point fingers….. but I guess I should start with myself !!! Thanks for reminding us all what Christians are called to do :)

  5. Michael-1806 July 2, 2013

    Dear Lisa,
    What an amazing article! You’ve done it again, stating the obvious solution to a world gone mad.

    Men and women have forgotten their place in the world. God is in charge. He’s the Creator; we are the created. Whay are we here? The Catechism informs us: “God made [us] to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven. ” How do we do this? We simply follow His command: “Love your neighbor as your self.” In the time of Jesus, many rabbis taught people to NOT do to others what you wouldn’t want done to yourself. Jesus’ message was radically different. He wants us to recognize the dignity of every person and act (not simply refrain from doing something). So, it’s our call to love!
    Thanks for reminding us.

    May we humbly and faithfully answer the call,
    Michael

  6. Renee-951930 July 2, 2013

    Thank you Lisa for the very insightful article. I particularly like the quote you put in by John Astin, “Every human interaction is sacred,” short, to the point, and what Jesus expects from us. Thank you.

  7. Maria-92259 July 2, 2013

    Excellent article,nothing to add…only a suggestion to promote volunteering at every age in any environment…so we can start leaving selfishness and pride way,way behind.

    • Bernard-568827 July 3, 2013

      It seems like that would be a good practical step to implementing what the author promoting :)

  8. Kathy G. July 2, 2013

    I always enjoy reading Lisa Duffy’s articles of insight. It always amuses me that so many people are glued to their cell phones, yet find it difficult to simply smile at a passing stranger.

  9. Audrey-964855 July 3, 2013

    Great article reminding us about the fundamentals of our faith and living! I’ve been thinking about love lately, and reminding myself that all love comes from God, and as God’s children we are called to love – full stop. Too often, we love or like others conditionally, and ‘keep count’ of hurts, favors, and so on. Love isn’t about that – it has to be something that permeates our life. And unfortunately, sometimes when one is nice, decent or forgiving, it’s perceived as weakness. Such is the world we live in today, and ironically, all the more reason to give love.

  10. Bernard-568827 July 3, 2013

    Thank you for this story. If there was a “like” button, I would press it. If I remember right, even Padre Pio spoke to the effect that we should all exhibit a general friendliness in us toward all those around us.

  11. Espe-410886 July 10, 2013

    I think if we all can understand that so many people today are going through some kind of crisis in their lives, death, divorce, job loss and the list goes on! I try to smile whenever I’m checking out at a store, say please and thank you but sometimes I’m the recipient of dirty looks or do not get acknowledged, people cutting me off as they speed past me but the best way I try to look at these situations in my mind is to say a short prayer for them because I don’t know what they’re going through.
    I remember when my son died I was very angry at God, cried a lot and I know that I probably did not put on my best attitude. Knowing my faith like I do now I can understand better that peoples attitudes do not get the best of me anymore.

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