Sunday, January 07, 2007

Tolerance in 2007

First I'd like to point out that for any loyal CNN viewers out there, this isn't a spinoff of Nancy Grace's "Intolerance in America", on the contrary, she knew I was going to do this and stole my idea. ;-)

I've been thinking a lot lately about tolerance. In a nation that prides itself on being open to everyone in the world, American's can sometimes be pretty intolerant of other races, religions, cultures, etc. I'm around people everyday that are constantly blaming the problems of the world "on them there muslims" and thinking that if you like anything French, than you're a traitor to America. I'd admit, that even I have my shortcomings, but overall, I think I'm more tolerant of others than the average joe.

The key to tolerance is education, especially self education. Even when it comes to what one watches on TV can affect their believes about others. Now I'm not saying that shows like South Park or even Family Guy are bad, the problem is that more often than not, people use the shows as "bibles" for the basis of their beliefs about others. I've been thinking a lot about the Islamic faith lately, and am considering even reading the Quran sometime this year, to build a more educated basis for how I view Muslims. It may seem contradictory to other Christians to go off and read another religious texts in that it is a sign of spiritual weakness. But in my opinion, it can only make one's faith stronger, having knowledge of the other ideas that are out there.

The truth is, most of the world's issues stem from intolerance; from both World Wars, to Korea to Vietnam, and especially the war on terror. Some of these were truly pivotal, for instance both the Korean and Vietnam wars were battlegrounds of capitalism vs communism. That is, wars fighting for who has the better system of governance. The entire Cold War was fought in this fashion. Some wars, are simply battles over ideas of who God is. What's ironic is Christianity, Judeaism, and Islam often preach of tolerance, but when it comes to who is right in their beliefs of who God is, it's a matter of life and death.

There's also a saying out there, though I can't remember quite how it goes, that to know one's adversary, one must read about them and learn about their point of view. I'd encourage anyone who is reading this in the year ahead to read about a culture, religion, idea, etc. that they don't fully understand. That doesn't mean having to subscribe to those ideas, it just means to learn about them for the sake of understanding, so at the very least there is reason behind any intolerance you may have. The more educated one is, the more tolerant one is of others.