Love and Tolerance–Or Lack Thereof

 The subject of love and tolerance was the subject of discussion at group that I attend on Sunday mornings. Although there is a spiritual connection in the group, it is not a church affiliated gathering. The code of love and tolerance is accepted by this diverse group of people with a wide range of cultural and political beliefs. We recognize that love and tolerance of others is not an easy, and I suggest not entirely natural for most of us. It is an attitude which requires a lifetime to cultivate. For the most part, we attempt to recover our broken lives by applying principals that, among others, acknowledge the destructive nature of self-seeking and that service to others is necessary to minimize self-seeking. Our service to others is made with no strings attached and no pre-conceived cultural biases—contrary to the polarized culture in which we live.

The current cultural issues of illegal immigrants, homosexuality, abortion, and foreign policy are but a few areas in which love and tolerance seems to be absolutely absent in the public debate. Intolerance infects daily life and extends beyond these controversial issues, including our attraction for professional football.

For example, a simple rush hour drive through a busy urban area will likely not be filled with understanding and tolerance. The roads are full of drivers (mostly single occupants) feverishly headed toward a destination like lemmings who act as though the cars in front of them are but faceless obstacles that are delaying their arrival. In political terms, conservatives are convinced that too many liberals are clogging the public roadways and are infringing on the conservative’s constitutional right to reach their destination unimpeded by illegals and those with differing views. And liberals believe that the single occupant, gas guzzling, air polluting SUVs are all driven by conservatives looking for another tax break in order to afford to fill their thirty gallon tanks. Feel the love on the road.

Love and tolerance is lacking in most of the most poplar television shows, radio talk shows, and the actions of many public figures. Recent entertainment headlines and talk show commentary complains that the judges of American Idol are overly cruel to many of the contestants. Despite, or perhaps because of, this public display of meanness, this show is one of the most highly watched shows ever. The justification and attraction for this cruelty is that the music industry is a tough business and that if you do not have what it takes, stay away. The shows producers focus on the negative and hurtful aspects of the rejected contestant’s because that is what the audience wants. They do not want love and understanding for someone who cannot sing. Many viewers tune in to specifically to see meanness.

Many radio talk show hosts make a living being outrages, mean, and insensitive to those with differing points of view. Listeners of these shows do not tune in for tolerance, understanding, and love for subjects the subjects discussed. They want to have their views ratified and to hear voices that sound like theirs. The host’s job is to validate their listeners and to generate hatred and meanness for opposing views. Diversity is not highly rated. 

We have come to accept that effective politicians are mean and cruel. We see these traits as inherent in partisan politics. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have been in the political arena for almost thirty years. Few would argue that their public persona has anything to do with love and tolerance and much to do with intolerance and meanness. They have succeeded in politics despite of, or perhaps because of, these negative traits. A redeeming fact of politics is the collective conscience of public grows weary of meanness and elects what they perceive as kinder, more tolerant representatives. However, we are more often than not disappointed.

I have to work daily to live with love and tolerance. This requires conscience action, and a life time.

Copyright © 2007 Mark Holmberg. All rights reserved.