Intolerance

I do a lot of reading, as you may have guessed. I pay attention to many forms of media; newspapers, television, radio, and the internet in all it’s various forms like Facebook, Twitter etc. A common theme that seems to be on the rise today is intolerance. Has intolerance always existed? Of course it has. Is it getting worse in America? I think so. Should people be intolerant? That depends. On what, you ask? My opinion is first of all, just my opinion. My wife and I were talking yesterday about how people come to be who they are. Who you are is a combination of a few different things. How you were raised, the influence of religion, who your friends are, and on and on. Who you are and what you believe is a combination of conscious and unconscious decisions you have made based on all the factors that go together to make you who you are. Don Miguel Ruiz, author of “The Four Agreements” calls it making agreements with yourself. I have studied Buddhism over the years and two of the things that it teaches are tolerance and not doing harm. Acceptance of other peoples views as valid even if they differ from yours is a part of tolerance. And also a part of “not doing harm.”

Lately the media has been filled with loads of intolerance. Take a look at the Duck Dynasty vs. A&E controversy. A&E suspended Phil Robertson from the TV show because of remarks he made about homosexuality and Jim Crow era Black people. Of course they have since relented and let him back on (he was never off.) You can make up your own mind as to why. 250,000 people signed an online petition supporting Phil and presumably what he said. If Phil Robertson wants to be intolerant of Gays and insensitive to blacks, it first of all shows his ignorance and also shows the power of media. His brand of Christianity is being splashed all over and people are agreeing with him. During the 2013 presidential race people like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum spread their Christian intolerance far and wide. Both claimed to be great Christians and were totally intolerant of any idea that wasn’t there own. I am intolerant of their intolerance. Why is that okay? Because their intolerance harms people.

In the Christian Bible (New International Version) Matthew 34-40, one of the Pharisees asks Jesus “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus first of all says the most important commandment is to love God above all else (my words). He goes on to say, without being asked, “And the second is like it: Love your Neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Right Wing Fundamentalist Christianity (RWFC) has embraced a culture of intolerance. Take the Gay issue for instance. This seems to be the biggest issue facing RWFC’s today. Ministers, politicians, and TV personalities all come out (come out hahaha) against equal rights for gays and preach intolerance towards them. A lot of them it seems, think more about gay sex than gays do. (Phil Robertson, when asked by the GQ interviewer what he thought of as sin immediately said male gay sex, not female, and bestiality. I guess we know what Phil thinks about.) The problem with this intolerance is that it goes against what Jesus taught in the Bible about the most important commandments and about judging. So we need to think about what “Loving your Neighbor as yourself” really means.

How do you love someone as you love yourself. It’s pretty simple. What you desire for yourself you have to desire for others. Do you want your views and beliefs to be considered valid? Do you want people to respect you for who you are and what you believe? Do you want people to take you seriously? Then you should be doing these things for others. Even if you don’t agree with them. If you think you should have equal rights then all people should have them. If you want others to take your religious views seriously then you can’t go around telling others they are wrong when they don’t agree. The Golden Rule, as it’s called, sums it up.

Unfortunately, the intolerance is selective. The RWFC’s have focused on equal rights for Gay people and homosexuality in general. What about divorce? Jesus, never having said a word about homosexuality has a lot to say about divorce. It is estimated that nearly 50% of all marriages in the US will end in divorce. The number of Gay people in the US is a lot lower than 50%. A lot lower. So, how many Christians have been divorced? I don’t have the numbers but it must be significant. Why do RWFC’s concentrate so hard on Gay issues while completely ignoring the divorce issue. It’s intolerance of others and acceptance of self.

I have heard people say they don’t like to hear Somali people speaking their own language because they can’t be understood and yet those same people have talked about their Grandmothers speaking their old Czech or Irish Gaelic dialect with fond memories. If your Grandmother had the right to speak her native language then Somali or Sudanese have the right to speak theirs, it’s just that simple.

There is nothing wrong with having different views. Saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is not a war on Christmas. It’s just a different way of saying something nice. A more inclusive way. Saying “Happy Holidays” includes other people besides Christians. Even if you’re not Christian, Jesus gave some good advice. Treat people the way you want to be treated. How you present yourself to the world is how people see you. If you want to attract people to your way of thinking, being intolerant of theirs is not the way to do it. People will not see your view or take you seriously. They will just see your intolerance.

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