This I Believe

James - Cold Spring, Kentucky
Entered on April 9, 2007
Age Group: 65+
Themes: tolerance
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I believe in tolerance. Tolerance with beliefs different from mine; tolerance with people’s habits, shortcomings, and behaviors contrary to mine.

Our world today seems to be too intolerant. One religion of another, one political party of another, one philosophy of another. Too many people want things to be their way with no room for differing opinions.

When I was a child, there was right and wrong. As we grow older it becomes more obvious that not everything can be easily categorized. There are shades of grey, nuances, and variations to just about every issue making simple determination of right and wrong much more complex.

I also believe that knowledge is power. You cannot have too much knowledge. So much of the intolerance around the world today is a direct result of ignorance of both sides of an issue. Too many people judge an issue by what they perceive to be analogous to what they believe without taking the time or trouble to inform themselves of both sides of an issue.

For instance, I grew up in a household of liberals. I stayed a liberal until my mid-thirties (I am currently in my late sixty’s) when I started to get curious about why conservatives thought the way they did. The more I learned about conservatism, the more sense it made to me. So now I consider myself to be a conservative, but I still challenge my conservative views by making sure I understand where the liberals are coming from. It is imperative to me that I understand both sides of an issue.

It is very frustrating to me when I try to talk issues with people who are on one side of the issue and have no knowledge of the other side. They just reject the other side out of hand. To me, this is very ignorant. I have heard conservatives call into talk shows who say people should not listen to a certain, liberal show or commentator. Why not? “Because they are liberal!” I have also heard many liberals say the same thing, “don’t listen to those conservative talk shows.” This head-in-the-sand attitude is what leads to misunderstanding, polarization, and sometimes to violence.

How else do you fully understand, and have confidence in, your own views without knowing the other side of the issue? Closing yourself off from views contrary to your own simply promotes, ignorance, and intolerance.

Why the intolerance with the other side? Aside from the obvious power-seeking issues, I believe it is because of ignorance, the unwillingness to fully understand both sides of an issue. This trend could cause the end of our Country as we know it. More tolerance would enable us all to live happier, less conflicting lives.

There is common ground within most issues confronting our nation today, if we had the tolerance to pursue it, rather than wanting it all one way or another.