This is overdue, and was brought up a couple of times in my mind today.
As we approach this election there seems to be a lot of intolerance whizzing about. And not just from you traditional right-wing fundamentalist sources. I see it as much from my left leaning friends and even those I would consider moderates too.
Frankly, people, this is unacceptable.
Our choices should not be reduced to “Hope or Die”, “Drill or go fuck yourself”. Stephen Colbert, in his interview on Fresh Air, talks about fighting the Culture War.
Culture War? Is this what we want? Is another war of any sort really needed? And this is exactly what he is fighting in. I am not presupposing that he started it, but he certainly profits by its continuation.
This path is treacherous. We could end up thrusting ourselves into another edition of the 1960s. Or we could start another *real* civil war. If you want two Americas, you can have it. Is this what you want?! This is were we are going with are present dialogue, and lack thereof. Even John Lennon wanted to be counted out of revolution.
But this can all be avoided if you (and a bunch of your friends) decide to be more tolerant of those around you. I am not saying you need to abandon your principles. However, I am asking that you distinguish between you having an intense disagreement with an idea or belief and hating those whom hold that belief.
Maybe compassion is a virtue, and maybe you don’t have the time, but I swear you have something to gain by not thinking that half of the world hates you because you hate them.
Here are a couple of hot button issues where you can start:
1) To the No on `Prop 8`_ People:
Listen, your cause is fundamentally about the oppression of people. You do your cause a grave injustice by being intolerant of those who hold a different opinion. You should try to convince them, not disregard them as stupid. Start with basics, like being afforded “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and to actively oppress people is inherently unAmerican. In fact this is exactly what the people who do form an existential threat (ie the terrorists) do to their own. If they bring up any sort of religious argument, you need only to bring up the separation of church and state. Make them frame their arguments (and you yours) solely on the basis of law and areligious morality. If they force you into a religious argument, throw out that the Torah allows lesbianism, and thus at least lesbians should be allowed to marry. But if you allow lesbians but not gays then that is sexist… Rather than hating on people next door/next city/next county you should do what Dan Savage says and money to the No on 8 organization. And vote!
2) To the Yes on `Prop 8`_ People:
This is probably a fundamentally intolerant viewpoint. I am not saying you need to jump into writing homoerotic fan fiction. But what is so wrong with people living different than you? Only half of those people murdered in Germany’s WWII death camps were Jewish, the other half were a mish-mosh of Catholics, Gypsies, old and infirm, and a whole lot of homosexuals. If you want to convince the other side that you are right, you have an uphill battle. There may be an argument to be made for civil unions. But I would think that this would fall under the “Separate but Equal” category that got us so far before the civil rights movement. Also, don’t hate your friendly gay neighbor for their life of sin, just donate money to your organization. And vote!
This is a big category, so rather than having a lot of qualifiers and explaining things for various types of unbelievers, I am only talking about fundamentalist, intolerant atheists. Let’s start with a song, huh?
P.F. Sloan wrote in Eve of Destruction: “Hate your next door neighbor but don’t forget to say Grace.”
You should *not* interpret this as there is no god(s), so I may hate my neighbor freely. (Which I fear goes on a lot.) Rather you should instead read this as reaffirming that your moral code comes from something other than a divinely inspired place. And those ‘religious’ folk don’t seem to be any better people because of their beliefs.
Tolerance is irrespective one’s beliefs. You can and should be accepting of other peoples guaranteed right to believe whatever they want. This is no reason to hate someone. If they are wise, then they won’t hate you for yours either.
Also, atheists, were do you get off re-appropriating the Bohr atom and Darwin to your cause? You have to know that this doesn’t help. Science (and it symbols you are stealing) is more or less reductionist. While your belief is strictly founded on holism. You can’t point to evolution and say “Thusly god doesn’t exist.” You are still presupposing *something*. Darwin doesn’t come into it. And if someone were to take all of the universe in all time and point to it and say “This gigantic, teeming differential equation is god.” Even then should you disagree, you would be assuming the same amount they are. How much stock someone puts in the atom shouldn’t be grounds for possibly killing them and their descendants. Science is just a collection of models that sometimes engineers build things with. It isn’t your robot love slave.
And yes, I am intolerant of intolerance. But don’t hate me for it.
And yes, I have a vested interest in promoting tolerance. Whenever anyone anywhere is intolerant, my people somehow get the short end of the stick. So if it helps, think of it like this. If you hate a group of people for their beliefs, you are really hating the Jews. And remember this time we “don’t” have nukes. Klaatu barada nikto.
EDIT: I saw “Religulous” this weekend, and I feel I should add these people to the list of cute, yet misused scientific symbols.