This I Believe

Nicholas - Lafayette, Indiana
Entered on December 21, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: tolerance
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I am a white Christian male. I’m a staunch republican. My view usually tends to be very right wing. Before you move along to another essay, remember that I am speaking of tolerance. Tolerance is a quality that many still posses despite sometimes a one sided set of ideals. It is not a quality that forces you to compromise your beliefs for those of another, but rather encourages the diversity of ideas. This is why I believe in tolerance.

I grew up in the large suburbs of Dallas and Ft. Worth. The grade school I attended contained children from various middle class families. It was an apish-posh of many different cultures. Muslim and Christian, among other religions made up this population. I mention my grade school because children always shine with bright innocence and acceptance. I never questioned my Muslim friend Saleem, but rather enjoyed the stories he told me of his family and their heritage. I never looked at him as being different in religious values. What he told me of Islam actually spoke similarly to Christianity. It spoke of a core of similar beliefs. Don’t Lie. Don’t steal. Don’t cheat; do unto others as you would expect done to you. Going home to tell my parents of Saleem, they showed timidness, but also excitement for the new friend in my life.

As I grow older, my experiences seem to mold my views. It also seems to skew my perception to a narrower scale. With experiences had with many Muslim nations throughout history, it seems I am justified in judging their culture. But understand, extremists are not the only side of a religion. It is easy to focus on the bad because that is only what is seen sometimes. Not all Muslims jihad in such heinous ways. Showing tolerance exemplifies an ability to understand that ones ways of life are not the only way, but rather an idea among many. As a Christian, I don’t tell them they are wrong but instead, agree to disagree.

I continue to seek tolerance in many aspects of my life. I crave bipartisanship amongst political parties. Many of my fellow Republican Party members, as well as Democratic counterparts find this impossible to do. Though a difficult goal, it is certainly necessary to our success as a nation.

I accept friendship, not because of race, sexual orientation, political or religious stance, but on character. All humans possess a basic commonality in moral character.

Remember, tolerance is like a child’s mind, a clean slate ready to learn, not having preconceived notions. As I grow older, I have to often take a step back looking at the big picture. I continue to seek a sort of devolution, a breakdown of judgments and opinions that have set themselves through my past experiences. I try to lead by example accepting others as equals, knowing that their different viewpoints are certainly available to teach me along my journey through life.