For the Christmas/New Year’s Season, I thought I would do something a little different on a personal note. No hyper-partisan political posts on the blog for a few days. We have had enough of that, haven’t we? Obama is off in Hawaii, I think we can take a small breather.
I wanted to focus just on my view of where America stands in other ways.
Today my ranting focus on a simple reality I think many of us experience when talking about any controversial subject: the complete loss of tolerance in society.
In many ways, this is ironic. Tolerance in the classic sense centered around the acceptance of those that were physically and religiously different from us. It was focused on the external appearance and activities of individuals. Over the years, we have certainly become more tolerant of other religions and races. The election of Barack Hussein Obama is simply the greatest example of that tolerance, where we elected a half Caucasian, half African-American male from Hawaii with an Arabic name to the highest office of the land.
But in other ways, we have walking backward in the concept of tolerance. When it comes to people’s innate beliefs, there has been a movement to squash ideas that are outside the ‘norm’ that our political and media mainstream finds ‘acceptable’.
It is a sad transition that America is making. In their quest for visual tolerance, they are becoming more intellectually intolerant. We can list a litany of examples, some recently, where people who were simply asked their opinion, honestly responded…and were treated as villains for that honesty.
Society clearly is in the right when we shun those that truly damage others, whose actions demean and hurt people based on their faith or race.
But commentary, of any sort, does nothing of the sort. In a free society, we are not free from being offended. I have often stated that if offensive speech is not free, then there is no freedom of speech.
But today, we apparently want freedom from offense. Somehow, we have come to a point where we believe that if someone has offended us by a throw away comment on Twitter, or if makes a comment about their religion even though we have never met them in real life…that this means they have infringed on our basic rights in some manner.
This type of ‘victimhood society’ permeates virtually every large discussion that our society has today. Every issue, regardless of merit, must be considered racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. Is there any issue nowadays that doesn’t reach that ultimate climax?
This type of debate is harmful to a society. There is nothing intellectual about such debate. Having a debate about which ideas are useful, and which are not, is healthy. Labelling any belief that doesn’t fit into your own narrow belief system as bigoted? That divides and damages a society.
Furthermore, distilling everything down to the level of bigotry clouds the real racism and bigotry that goes on this country. While we complain about Duck Dynasty or Alec Baldwin, millions of youths continue to go to schools that are failing them, insuring they have little chance of long-term economic success in the world economy. Large portions of society languish in jobs that have no potential for upward mobility, and we spend our time talking about what the random millionaire entertainer said this week. We are becoming a dumber society, day by day.
Another example is the apparent ‘blasphemy’ that the traditional concept of Christmas is to the secular extremists in society. Arguing whether a manger can be in the public square, a Christmas tree at school, or whether Santa is white or black? Please. This is all nonsense . The ‘COEXIST’ symbol at the top of the page? It is a common one that is shared among many, but I don’t think they really believe in the heart of the concept.
Maybe it was my Hindu upbringing, but I was pretty much willing to accept all religious holidays. My parents, who grew up in India, regularly celebrated Christmas as kids. They celebrated Muslim holidays as well. And their Christian and Muslim friends would celebrate Hindu holidays. India is certainly not perfect when it comes to religious tolerance, that this simple level of acceptance allows for the huge religious divided to be bridged somewhat. That is what true acceptance of others beliefs means, but apparently, that is not readily accepted in today’s America. We have forgotten that we choose to become involved in the activities that we like, can choose when we want to pass, and that others should be free to do the same. Today, however, unless everyone conforms, someone is offended.
This is not, in my opinion, a left or right political wedge. In a large country such as ours, with a diverse and heterogeneous society, there are enough divisions that separate us already that we should not have to create new ones to divide us further. There was a time we simply accepted that some people disagreed with us. We used to teach preschoolers and kindergarteners that even if someone disagreed with you, you could shake hands and walk away without hating each other.
Maybe it is time to send the rest of America back to Kindergarten.
Ideological tolerance will be at the heart of what the Free Speech movement will need in the coming decades, because amazingly, he have solved many, but not all, of the physical intolerance in society. People will continue to try to divide us as a people, because for some, that is all they know. But we should all hope and pray for a society where we can fundamentally disagree, tolerate those beliefs we object to, find joy in others who are fundamentally different than us, while still treating each other with respect and true tolerance that a free society requires.
Sadly, that is not the America we live in today.