“Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.”
We live in a pretty disturbing time. Yes, we have to contend with ISIS, economic woes, poverty and many other issues that consume our thoughts. But in the last couple of weeks, however, something more disturbing has come to the forefront and really needs to be examined.
Let me first say that I am no fan of political correctness. My friends, political correctness has run amok in this country. Our college campuses, high schools and society have fallen prey to the ideas of a few, and if you don’t agree with them, you are then branded a bigot among other things. Gone are the days when you could actually have an opposing thought, because if you don’t agree with a person or a group, then you have committed some form of unthinkable crime. Peter Thiel says that “the core problem in our society is political correctness.”
I firmly believe that we all strive to think and act in ways that correspond to a belief that most everyone is tolerant of others in society. Unfortunately this is not always the case. It seems that those who claim to be the most tolerant are not. I honestly can not comprehend how you can say that a person is racist, bigoted, homophobic or whatever because they don’t agree with you is acting in a tolerant manner. Noted author Ray A. Davis sums it up perfectly when he says that “tolerance only for those who agree with you is no tolerance at all.”
As a strong believer in the first amendment, it should be obvious that as long as you’re not threatening anyone or spreading any type of hate speech that could hurt someone, then what you say should be left alone. You shouldn’t be demonized, threatened and ostracized because of your beliefs. The beauty of the first amendment and living in the United States is that we are allowed to actively disagree with others who do not share the same thoughts.
I would like those who instantly have a guttural reaction to those who oppose them and vocalize it to rethink their reaction and ask themselves, “how is this being tolerant?”
In trying to be a more compassionate, and yes, a more tolerant person, I am trying to keep an open mind to other people. I’m not going to lie-this has proven to be a very difficult task. I do not agree with a great many things, but I refuse to resort to saying that someone is a racist etc. because they do not agree with me. What then can we do to truly show that we are tolerant?
First and foremost, everyone needs to accept the fact that people are not going to agree with everything that you say or think. Having this belief alone would considerably elevate the level of discussion in this country when it pertains to controversial issues,
Second, let’s agree that just because someone disagrees with us that they instead choose another way of reacting than spewing hate back at your detractors. Accept what they have to say as what they believe. Resorting to the old responses of “you’re a racist or a homophobe” just doesn’t cut it anymore. If anything, it shows a distinct lack of intellectual depth and understanding of what free speech is.
Third, if you disagree with a radio program or a television show based on its content or message, turn it off. If you find a book, blog, newspaper article or any other written matter to be offensive, don’t read it. It really is as simple as that. As fervently as you hold your beliefs, so do people who disagree with you. And that is the point as well as the big picture.
As with earlier posts, you may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with hiking, and more importantly Zen Hiking?” I believe that a distinct correlation exists between the two. Being Zen in being able to live in the now, and not worry about what has happened in the past and what may happen in the future. We all want to live our lives as we choose without being afraid to express our views.
Taking the time to think while I hike has allowed me to do several things. I know that at work I have colleagues who have expressed differing viewpoints as to handle a situation. When I am out in the woods (especially this time of year) walking, thinking and breathing in the crisp autumn air gives me a chance to examine each side of a situation. Sometimes I stand firm and other times I am compelled to change my view based on what has been presented to me. Regardless of what the end result is, I have thought about it and can further articulate it when asked to do so. I am not blindly and ignorantly shutting down the ability to express opinions that differ from mine own.
Another colleague, whom I respect immensely, told me recently after a rather contentious discussion that she disagreed 100% with what I had to say. No name calling, no threats. A mutual disagreement among colleagues that did not end badly That is how it should be.
My point is a simple one. We all choose how we react to everything that happens to us everyday. We can choose to react passively or in anger. We can choose to react showing our ignorance. But, if we choose to do so, we can react in a manner that shows compassion and tolerance. Labeling and calling people names because they do not share our thoughts is the antithesis of actually being tolerant.
Think about these questions:
If I choose to react in a negative manner to those who disagree with me, how is that promoting any type pf beneficial discussion?
If I choose to accept the fact that other people will hold different beliefs, can that possibly hurt further discussion?
If I am at a point where I hold a very strong belief, can I at least get to a place where I can, at the very least, begin to understand where that other person is coming from?
“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.