Intolerance has become so pervasive. In a time when our world is shrinking in terms of travel and communication, we are growing further apart as humans. Unless we find a way to live together in more harmony, a world community of good neighbors will allude us.
When I was growing up, many of us were in Sunday school each Sunday learning our Bible verses.
We sang classics like, “Jesus loves the little children of the world/Red and yellow, black and white/they are precious in His sight/Jesus love the little children of the world.”
Sunday after Sunday we heard messages about loving everyone, doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.
We learned about being good stewards of the earth God had given to us. We were admonished not to judge or thrown stones of judgment and intolerance at others.
Later, as I did my own values and belief clarification, I took a religion class taught for credits by a very liberal pastor. When I asked him why he was one, he replied.
“There is no better way to live than basic Christianity.” T
hat he was honored to work to build a loving community for those ends. He went on to say many of the world’s religions had similar truths of love and acceptance of your fellow man imbedded in them.
Yet beneath those beliefs we espoused, intolerance lurked. For it wasn’t until the 1960s that civil rights inequities were addressed after a brave woman refused to sit at the back of the bus. Though our nation fought a civil war to stop slavery, separate bathrooms, stores, restaurants and health facilities were a norm in the South. And though it is not mentioned in history books, a prosperous black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma was annihilated by bombs dropped from private planes.” They” were getting too “uppity.”
Fast forward to the present where intolerance and hatred continues.
Since COVID apparently originated in China, persons of Chinese descent are being persecuted in our country.
Voter suppression is targeting people of color. Those who are different often are treated differently by law enforcement and the courts.
Any difference is noted and addressed according to the beliefs of those in charge.
Though everyone is legally entitled to be treated equally, laws are now being passed to demonize all aspects of the LGBTQ community.
One young girl asked her mother what LGBTQ meant and learned it was about love. In a very simple, non-judgmental answer the mother replied.
“L is for lesbian, which is romantic love between two women, G is for gay, which is romantic love between two men, the B is for Bi, which is when someone has romantic love for both men and women, the Q is for questions or queer, which is when someone understands they are not hetero, and T is for when someone transitions from one gender to another so they are living in their true form and true to their hearts.
“All of this is about love; how people find love in the world and how people love themselves for what they are. “
How simple it is, and yet some people continue to feel threatened by those who are different.
Immigrants coming into our country remain a complex issue. Instead of addressing it in a loving way, they have been demonized. People of color are being told to go back to their own country.
Ironically, the people we once called Indians have been the target of this prejudice, when they are the only true natives of our country. The rest of us are either immigrants or descended from immigrants.
The only way we will ever arise above these biases is to be introspective. But when the Dr. Seuss estate decided to pull some of their books because they recognized some passages would teach children bigotry, people came unglued.
I thought we were supposed to learn from our mistakes? Instead, it is being called culture cancellation.
During their formative first six years, children become what they are taught and what they see in their families and neighborhoods. They are little sponges that absorb what they see on the TV and social media.
Good parenting, and the neighborhood that helps them, knows that those early years are the time bigotry, addiction and other serious societal issues can be successfully addressed. You wouldn’t feed your children poison, so why would you indoctrinate them with bigotry, porn and other inappropriate material that furthers intolerance and hate?
Change is one of the most difficult things we can face: we have lived in a time of huge change. While much of it is technological, more and more minorities, people of color and even women are part of the power structure. Diversity is our future. Let’s hope tolerance is also.