“Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.”Robert Green Ingersoll
This year has been exhausting for everyone. Without any training we have had to weather a marathon of uncertainty and concern while finding new ways to work and learn. Amidst all of this we have also had to contend with an elevated sense of rage and fear, lack of empathy and understanding, and intense political vitriol. As difficult as it is navigating this new normal into which we have been plunged unceremoniously, it has been made even more daunting by all the hate.
Perhaps the hate has always been there, biding it’s time lurking in shadows and skulking in corners, but now it has been set lose to wrap it’s long and ugly tentacles around anyone who feels compelled to take up the dark mantel of its oppression.
The fact that so many communities of people (LGBTQ, African Americans, Muslims, and countless others) have to continually fight for their rights to be treated like a person is beyond my comprehension. I hear the rhetoric that all humans have rights and yet in the next breath those rights are limited for a certain group, stripped of their humanity by those who hide their intolerance and hate behind a mask of righteousness.
This year has brought out both the beautiful and the ugly in everyone. I have seen great acts of compassion and heroism (shout out to all the health care workers!) and despicable acts of violence and hate. Like everyone else, I have done what I can to make the most of this crazy time and I am truly thankful that I have a good job, a healthy family, and great friends to weather this storm. Then I read a post on Facebook that pushed me over the edge. And I get it – Facebook is an outlet for a lot of people to post their beliefs, their “side” of the political aisle, their religious dogma, and sometimes post cute puppy pictures (more of that, less of the other would be great). I believe myself to be tolerant of opposing views, of allowing for free expression, of looking at both sides of the problem before making a decision. Then I read a post that, in my opinion, was so hateful, it took my breath away.
I won’t put the exact post here, but the essence of the post was linking the right thinking people and left thinking people to a biblical quote, indicating that the bible supported one group as smart and the others as complete idiots. Essentially relegating half the population and their beliefs into a category of idiocy – of being wrong – of being unworthy. The level of hate in the post summarizes, for me, why my heart hurts for this country during this difficult time. What happened to tolerance? To allowing others to have their own beliefs without either side being right or wrong? We each have the right to believe what we like, but that does not make what we believe right. It is neither right nor wrong – it is our belief. Isn’t that what this country was founded on? Weren’t our forefathers persecuted for what they believed and they fled to a place where they could be free to believe without fear?
I am only one person in this huge world and sometimes I feel helpless in the face of the overwhelming tidal wave of chaos that is crashing down on this country. But if we all did our part to be tolerant, to find ways to be kind to those less fortunate, to put ourselves above the petty snark and hate, then perhaps one by one, we can begin shifting towards tolerance in our world. In the meantime, I will take a break from Social Media and focus on things I can do in my community. And I pray we all come out of the chaos with the ability and desire to move forward together.