I read an article today about a video I watched a month or so ago called, The Evolution of the Swimsuit. Please take a moment to read and view both links before you continue reading.
My opinion on the video was supportive since I am against myself and my girls wearing a bikini. I am Pro-Modesty (if that's even a term I can use). I am against the bikini because I believe it exposes them in a way that we cannot control. For example, I cannot control the creepy guy at the pool from oogling my daughter or me while wearing something that's revealing. So in order to take as much control as I can, I choose for us to wear something that deflects that sort of behavior in others. That choice makes me feel happy, like I am protecting the virtue within my daughters, as well as in myself. Not to mention, helping not create a weakness in others that choose to look at us in that manner.
So when I read the article of this author's take on The Evolution of the Swimsuit, she asked a question, not unlike the questions I ask at the end of each of my blog posts. (Makes me feel like I could write for KSL.) She asked this:
"Can we teach modesty while at the same time, teach tolerance?"
Hmmmm. . . . . Well, let's deconstruct the question first. Modesty, by definition, means: "regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress etc." So if you believe/practice/teach modesty as being what is decent, then I think it would be fair to say that the opposite, or immodesty, would be deemed indecent. All of which is completely opinion based and circumstantial to your environment. Tolerance, by definition, means: "a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own". Now, to teach tolerance is to basically show acceptance of something others or yourself do not accept. Therefore, by saying you are a tolerant person, you are stating that you are accepting of something that is openly viewed as not acceptable either in yourself or others. And by doing so hope to change that opinion from unacceptable to acceptable. Otherwise, why would you be standing up for it? Again, all of which is completely opinion based and circumstantial to your environment. (What is one man's trash, is another man's treasure.)
Now, before I dive into my opinion on the question, I want to define one more word. Opinion, by definition means: "a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty". This definition alone proves to me that an opinion can only be deemed as concrete truth by and to the person who holds it. Opinions are personal. Opinions are based upon one's own views. My personal opinion is that the color Green is that happiest color on the earth. I believe that is why God created plants/life with the color green. The color green can be seen from space and is the most widely used color in nature. The word green even has been used to represent a higher standard of living. Green, is the supreme color. I believe this with all my heart. Some of you out there might believe it as well. But I know so many that view Yellow as their happy color, or Blue, or Pink. I personally do not like pink. I feel pink makes me look childish and like I'm dressing too young for my age. I am not confident in pink and usually think others are staring at me when I wear it. There is nothing anyone will ever say to me to get me to wear pink. I may have some flecks of it in a blouse or something similar like burgundy shoes, but I dislike pink. And that's okay, it's my opinion.
Going back to the modesty/tolerance debate. I feel that society uses the word tolerance too much. Not that it's negative, but that it's used so much the definition is now being distorted. I don't believe it's about being tolerant when it comes to the example of modesty vs. tolerance, as much as it is about being non-judgmental when holding on to your own opinion. Being Judgmental, by definition means: "tending to criticize, tending to judge or criticize the conduct of other people". This is where I think society has become derailed in it's thinking. We forget that we, at least in this country, have liberty, and liberty is the freedom to exercise our rights. Because of liberty, we are granted the freedom to have opinions. And by having an opinion, we reached that opinion by making a personal judgment. That is what our forefathers sought after when they fled England. They wanted to choose for themselves.
I believe that the word judgmental is also used too much to the point that the definition is being distorted. We forget that as free, human beings, we are entitled to make our own judgments. What we should not do is be a judgmental person. Let me explain further. Making a judgment is personal and only involves the person making the judgment. It's an internal action. Being judgmental is an external action because it involves someone else. Typically defined as condemning another for their own judgment or opinion.
I have made a judgment!! I believe Green to be the color of all colors. What I have not done is be judgmental. I have not condemned another for not believing the same thing. Do I need to tolerate someone for not liking Green?? No. Do I need to go out and condemn someone for thinking Pink is the ultimate color in order to defend Green? No, again. To tolerate someone or their opinion is to be accepting. And no, I do not have to accept anyone else's opinion ever!! What I do believe I need to do is to not condemn another for their opinion. So in defense of Modesty, I will always be pro-modesty. Referring to the KSL article, will I protest Victoria's Secret for their racy commercials in voice or action? Probably not. I will however make a judgment and always change the channel when one comes on. Am I condemning VS? No. I'm just choosing not to support it or accept it in my home. And I will show my girls that action as a teaching tool for modesty.
Ultimately, my answer to the question of "Can we teach modesty while at the same time, teach tolerance?" is Yes, but they do not need to be synonymous. Teaching tolerance and practicing it are two different things. And being tolerant does not mean you must be tolerant of all things. I think it's more important to teach the difference between making a judgment and being judgmental, and practice that, than it is to worry about offending someone else by not accepting their choices. We will always be in a place to be offended or to offend. That is the joy of having different opinions. Believe it or not, it's a good thing. But just like opinions, offense is also personal. If you take someone else's opinion as a personal offense, well then that's your problem. If you personally offend someone for their opinion, then again, that's your problem. If we sit around and worry about opinions and offenses, we are missing the mark entirely. Having an opinion that is different than another's is a normal every day life occurrence. It does not mean you have to accept their opinion and it also does not give you the right to condemn them for it.
I do not tolerate a great many things. It does not mean I am a negative person. (Which I believe society thinks people are when they are not "tolerant" of one thing or another.) It simply means that I hold strong to my opinion. I don't think I will ever be tolerant of the bikini, and even if one of my daughters comes home wearing one, I will not accept it. However, I will always accept her. And maybe that's more the definition we should be searching for.
So what do you think? What is your opinion today?