Friday, January 23, 2009

Tolerance in America

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act, as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails today among human creatures.

Abraham Lincoln

In the past few months, I've witnessed an awful lot of people bleating about their rights, claiming persecution and donning the mantle of victimhood. I've stood up for quite a few positions during this time - some of which I was right about, others that I might not have been.

I've come think the secret to a happy society is tolerance. But what is tolerance?

I've been thinking about this a lot and I think tolerance is actually easy. Tolerance is the subtle art of not getting up off your arse to meddle in somebody else's business.

For example, if my evangelical Christian next-door-neighbor wants to home school his kids, (teaching creationism and other delightful fairy tales) my natural instinct it to leap up and do something about it. But do you know what? Maybe it's none of my business. Maybe I should let him do whatever he wants and confine my opinions to how I live my life.

Likewise, if the two young men next door want to get married, the idea might be sickening and disturbing to you - but their union isn't going to affect you at all. In fact, to propagate a popular stereotype, their house renovations might raise the property value of the entire street. Maybe you should leave them to do whatever they want to do and confine your opinions to how you live your life.

The best thing about tolerance is that it's that easy. You don't have to do anything.

To protest religious homeschooling, you have to write an angry letter to the school board ("Dear Sir, teaching creationism is akin to child abuse!")

To protest gay marriage, you have to campaign for legislative reform and paint placards (God Hates Fags! Mal 1:3!)

To do the right thing - and be tolerant and respectful of other people's rights to live how they want to - the only thing you have to do is settle back into your chair and take a sip of your Plym and Tonic.

You don't have to like it. You don't have to support it. All you have to do is recognize that it's none of your Goddamned business (and therefore, your opinion on the matter is completely insignificant.)

Here endeth the sermon - but I think it's just as valid a lesson for liberty-lovin' liberals like me as the right wing people I'm always attacking. Looking back, I realise there's no ideological right or wrong. When it comes to Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, the Conservatives have been right on some issues, the Liberals have been right on others - and they've both been wrong on things a number of times!)

As long as they don't infringe on anybody else's freedom and nobody gets hurt, we've no right to prevent people making their own choices in life. It's called progress, Baby, and you'd best not stand in the way of it.

6 comments:

Coffee Bean said...

Excellent post Roland. I agree to a point. In my opinion, where gay marriage is concerned, the fight has been to keep marriage between a man and a woman. The very litigiousness of the gay movement as they push forward is a threat to Christian businesses and churches. The goal is not equality, gay marriage is a vehicle in which another door will be opened to the possibility of further legislation. The goal is for control over what people believe. Conservatives are not fighting to make homosexuality illegal... just to not have it forced upon them and their families.

I really like Two Dogs idea of government getting out of marriage all together.

sxychikadee said...

I'm going to twit your blog link. This is a great topic and discussion, as usual. Oh and I "tagged you" in one of my blogs. Cheers!

ck said...

We are all intolerant of something.

Period.

You seem very intolerant of those God hates fags folks.

We are all intolerant and it makes since that some are going to use their religion to base their intolerance on.

April said...

I am pretty sure I just fell in love with you. In a totally platonic, non-threatening, non-sexual way. And although there are times when I completely disagree with your opinions, I am still tolerant of them and I can not deny that you my friend, are a damn genius. That is all.

kirstygreenwood said...

Apologies that this is off topic, but I just have to say that little Martin is so handsome! Makes me broody.
Also loving the new header! x

UNRR said...

This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 1/26/2009, at The Unreligious Right