Saturday, July 3, 2010

Thoughts on tolerance and openmindedness

Is openmindedness a word? It sounds right, but it looks wrong.

The other day I was looking for some information about an event happening in a town nearby. Being the tech savvy guy I am I Googled it to see what I could find. Of course a million entries came up, one looked good so I clicked it to see what it said. It happened to be an article written for something called the Jackson Hole Underground. Guessing that this was an online publication for the "underground society" of Jackson (BTW how underground can you get in a city of about 9000 people?) I wondered what they would have to say about the subject matter I was looking up, a Glenn Beck speech over the Independence Day weekend. The author was not shy about letting everyone know where he stood on the subject calling Beck a racist that inspires terrorism. I am guessing the author would say he leans somewhat to the left of Glenn Beck politically I really don't know, but using that presumption I would guess that the author is a Democrat, maybe with liberal leanings. I have heard a lot from Democrats about how they are the party of tolerance and inclusion, how they champion the causes of the less fortunate, homosexuals, and illegal aliens just to name a few. How we should all have one love etc... The problem I have with this is that it seems to me that when it comes right down to it, they only want to include those who feel/think the way they do. I have had some conversations with Democrats who wouldn't include me in anything but a hit list. I have found it is very difficult to have discussions with these people because they just keep telling me that I am wrong, narrow minded, and less educated than they are. There isn't a lot of tolerance for my thoughts on many issues, so it makes me wonder.

Now I realize that I am making a generalization here, it is a generalization based on my experiences however, and my perceptions are what my reality is based on. For what its worth I have listened to Glenn Beck for about five years now, not everyday, and I've never watched his t.v. show for more than five minutes. In that time I've never heard him say anything racist. Ever. I've never heard him incite terrorism, or have I ever heard of a terrorism act claimed by him or those who listen to him or who believe what he believes.

I have had similar experiences when it comes to religion. I happen to belong to a faith that believes in proselytizing. We believe that our religion is true, that it will bring others peace and joy, and a fuller meaning to their life. For two years I spent time in England trying to share that message with others. When you knock on doors for 12 hours a day you meet some amazing people. Most of those I met did not share my beliefs. That's okay with me because I respect people's ability to choose. Some of these people I met welcomed me into their homes, offered me food and drink warmth and the opportunity to discuss my beliefs. They were respectful, kind, and generous with their time. They didn't often believe what I said but they listened. I'd like to think that these discussions were mutually informative. More often I would run into people who would not listen, which again is fine I respect their ability to choose, but not only would they not listen they would insult me and my beliefs. It wasn't that they just didn't believe me, they had to insist that I was wrong. From there they had to tell me that I was in fact going to hell and that this would be too good a destination for me. I don't get that. Especially when this would come from "born again Christians."

I might be wrong, but wouldn't one who has accepted Jesus as their personal savior feel some obligation to follow His example to the best of their abilities? To, in whatever way they could, try to be Christlike? Much like my experiences with Democrats I haven't found a lot of tolerance from these "Christians." It seems to me that Jesus spent His time with lots of different people. From publicans, to lawyers, lepers and the crippled, non-believers and zealots alike. Christ listened to the woman taken in adultery and listened to her accusers. He heard out both sides and offered His counsel. He seems to me a good example of tolerance. He included all who would listen into His discussions and delivered sermons to one and all. I wish we could all be a little more like Jesus of Nazareth. More kind, more willing to listen to other's opinions, more willing to reason one with another.

What would your choice be? To be like the man who commented that if Glenn Beck would believe in Mormonism he would believe in anything? Or like the man who said suffer them to come unto me? Irregardless of your personal beliefs, wouldn't the world be a better place if we could respectfully listen to others, to accept that they can have their own thoughts/opinions on issues, and to realize that just because they do they are not less intelligent or more gullible than we are? I'd like to think so, but, I respect your ability to think otherwise.