Active Tolerance

January 18, 2011
posted by Admin

Today was a typical day in my life. I grabbed my cup of coffee and sat down to read the New York Times. After reading the lead article, the title of which is not important, I can’t help but reflect on the polarization of our country and people. I am infinitely sad at the way my country is so polarized; the way that people are so angry. By highlighting differences, the average politician winds up inciting anger in his constituents. The result is confusion and upset in the minds of all citizens.
Politicians want to seek solutions. I get that! It is tempting for all of us to seek easy solutions. Find what you think is right, stick to it, and then categorize all other points of view as wrong! This standard black and white thinking reduces our struggle towards compromise and fully understanding other points of view. It feeds into a false belief that if we think that we are right, we are safe. But, it seems to me that we have shoved our fear into a box and covered it over with our anger towards opposing points of view. It doesn’t matter if this is left- right; liberal-conservative; Democrat or Republican. We are all entering into this kind of thinking that separates us from our friends, neighbors and fellow citizens. We become more and more isolated from each other and fearful.

Does everything in this country come down to right and wrong? Are we that frightened of each other?

We will never truly know who is right or wrong in the way that we think or believe. We will never live in a world where everyone agrees with us. No matter what we believe, there will always be others who believe that we are wrong. We will not be able to exist or to create a future without the collective efforts and talents of all of our citizens, those that we think are right and those that we think are wrong.
In the end we will have to forgive those that are different from us if we are to heal and move on as a country. What is happening in our nation right now is important! We need to pay attention to our anger, fear and helplessness. In reading the paper today, I came across this quote:
“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope……Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.” Reinhold Niebuhr
May the New Year bring you peace!

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