The Salvation Army has long been a holy-day season fixture in front of my local supermarket, providing some Christmas sounds and cheer as it raises money to serve the poor. But when I went grocery shopping a couple of days ago, a difference was apparent: there was an SA volunteer and collection pot on the premises, but no trademark bell-ringing. So I asked the man why — even though I already knew the answer.
You might have read the recent news stories concerning complaints about the SA bells. And, sure enough, the volunteer at my supermarket confirmed that these grinches’ griping was the reason they’d been silenced. So now another element of the Christmas season is no more, at least in my area.
Of course, some may say that any continual noise can be irritating. But this raises questions: why didn’t people seem to find the SA bells as annoying 25 years ago? Is it any coincidence that increasing irritation with them seems to hew closely with the growth of our society’s secularist-grinch constituency?
It goes without saying that some people must have found the bells annoying decades ago as well. Most everything irks someone and everyone is irked by something (with me, it’s the grating, purposeless noise emanating from liberals’ mouths). Yet we tend to often tolerate things that annoy us, realizing that dealing with such comes with the territory of living among other beings. And tolerance is the relevant factor here because, clearly, it is only growing intolerance that could explain complaints intense enough to instigate the change in question.
Before proceeding, I’ll point out that “tolerance” is almost universally misunderstood today. While we often conflate it with affection or sympathy, the word actually implies the abiding of a perceived negative. We wouldn’t tolerate a fine car, delectable meal, or a beautiful work of art; we relish those things. But we would have to tolerate bad weather, a cold, or a Nancy Pelosi speech. Could you imagine someone asking not about pain, but “How much pleasure can you tolerate?”
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