Sunday, 24 January 2010

Tolerance

In some respects, this is a continuing theme from the last couple of blog entries. I am becoming more focused on the principle that God's focus is on restorative justice and on giving rather than on destructive justice and judgement.

Barclay commenting on Luke 9:49-56 places emphasis on acknowledging and accepting that there are many different ways to God. C. S. Lewis in the Narnia series has a picture of this in “The Last Battle” (that is if my memory serves me correctly). There a believer in Tash enters the new world along with Aslan and his followers. Confused, the believer in Tash questions why he is there to be informed by Aslan that he has actually been living a life like a follower of Aslan rather than as a follower of Tash. Mistaken belief didn't lock out this person. But does this mean that we shouldn't be concerned about what others believe?

Barclay argues that the basis for “our tolerance must not be based on indifference but on love. We ought to be tolerant not because we could not care less; but because we look at the other person with eyes of love. When Abraham Lincoln was criticized for being too courteous to his enemies and reminded that it was his duty to destroy them, he gave the great answer, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?””

It is Abraham Lincoln's response that many of our world leaders should remember as they deal with conflicts around the globe. Rather than making enemies of those that they disagree with, they should be building bridges for dialogue. We should be seeking the best for all people in love.

As I work with students trying to assist them to learn about computer science and software development, I see people from a wide range of nations and beliefs. It is easy to become the judge based on interactions and the work that they submit but it is far more productive to enter into dialogue seeking to understand why they have answered the way that they have a endeavouring to discuss the differences in understanding. Building bridges brings hope although not always answers. Dialogue can also challenge our understanding and provide new opportunities for learning for both us and those that we endeavour to teach.

My research into programming has left me confident that certain ways of thinking are more productive and helpful than others. There are a range of different ways of thinking about the nature of a program (Thompson 2008). This influences the way that a person approaches programming. However, I am also confident that I can't just tell someone how to think partly because my knowledge is also partial. I must help them to see the alternatives and through that help them to gain insight into more productive ways of thinking. Further along the way, I also gain a better understanding of how to help others and have some of my own thinking challenged. Through endeavouring to build bridges in understanding, we grow together and gain more that what we would gain by standing face-to-face in conflict.

Reference

Barclay, W. (1975). The gospel of Luke (revised ed.). Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press.

Thompson, E. (2008). How do they understand? Practitioner perceptions of an object-oriented program. Unpublished Dissertation, Massey University, Palmerston North.

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