I've been swimming long distances lately. On the 12th of September I did three miles straight. Just to see if I could. (Turns out I can!)
All that swimming gives me plenty of thinking time. Lately I've had a singular question floating around in my head that I can't seem to answer satisfactorily to my inner self.
Am I a hypocrite?
Recently I wrote about all of the hate speech being used in the political campaigns this year. I tried to address not the usual mudslinging, truth bending things. But the direct hate and intolerance others seem to feel so self righteous about. I may not have been entirely successful at getting the point across, as somehow I offended people by posting offensive memes. They weren't offended at the memes themselves, but the fact that I found them offensive.
On Facebook today, a friend of mine posted an article that has been making the Interweb rounds since 2008. I posted the Snopes take on it as being false, but somehow one of her other friends jumped on and said it was true, mainly because he doesn't like Obama, ergo anything bad said about him must be true. My guess is that he is a birther, too. But I found myself getting aggravated by his lack of logic and failure to discern truth from fiction. I am trying to be civil in my discourse, but how do you reason with someone that the sun shines light on us during the daytime, when they firmly believe it gathers light from the stars, the moon and the planet Krylos to beam down on us?
I say at the bottom of my blog, jokingly, that "I hate haters and so I am filled with self loathing." It was tongue in cheek when I first wrote it, but developments in the past few years have led to some re-examination of my beliefs.
And so we come to Intolerance.
I have little tolerance for those who are intolerant. So am I a hypocrite? Perhaps. Perhaps. But I am tolerant of those who will listen to my opinions without judgement. Of people who believe vastly different things from me, as long as they aren't trying to force those beliefs on me. I am tolerant with my friend Josh, who politically is about as far away from my beliefs as Pluto is from the Sun. But we can listen to the other view point. Disagree with each other. Agree that we won't see eye to eye on the best path politically for this country. Yet still talk about knives and hunting and bows and stuff. If the end of the American Empire suddenly fell on us and anarchy and chaos were the order of the day, I'd still trust him to have my back. He knows what he believes and I respect that. In turn he respects what I believe. Seems simple.
We disagree, and we tolerate that facet of our friendship so we can maintain a friendship.
But there are those out there who honestly believe that if I am not 100% in agreement with them, then I am their enemy. People who don't know me from Adam, but decide that since I support Obama, I must be an anti-American, Socialist, insert your particular brand of hate here, no good SOB. (Which no longer means Short Of Breath to me.) They willingly throw baby out with the bathwater, and seem to believe they are right for doing it.
If I claim to be a tolerant person, am I a hypocrite for being rather intolerant of them? I must be.
But if I am, how do I go about tolerating their hatred and vitriol? Does tolerating their beliefs mean tolerating their behaviors and attitudes? Tolerating lies told at the expense of truth? Is it not possible that if we sat down for a meal or two together, that we might find more things to agree on than to hate each other for?
My kid skins his knees when he falls down.
Hey, mine too!
I hate shoveling the drive after a heavy snow.
I hear you there!
Every morning the sun comes up and I try to do the best I can with what I have, and try to make a better life for my little ones.
Holy cow! The sun comes up in my world, too!
When we get down to it, nobody has all the answers. Almost everybody goes day to day doing the best they can. Republican, Democrat. Christian, Muslim. Rich, Poor. Black, Yellow, Red, White. Everyone wants a better future. There just seem to be differing opinions on how to get there.
But one thing is for darn sure. Hatred and Intolerance have never solved any problems. With their little buddy Lies, they tend to do more damage to a better future. Is it too much to ask for Truth, Kindness, Compassion and Reason to find their way into debates and disagreements? Or God forbid, to become a norm for a political campaign? Perhaps I spoke too soon when I said I'd stay out of politics until November. Perhaps my goal should be to only use positive attributes of my chosen candidate to highlight, rather than the obvious flaws of the opponent. Hmmm. I'll give that some thought.
Until then, I believe that intolerance of intolerance will have to be OK. I don't mind reasoned disagreement. I am tolerant of that. I cannot tolerate those who hate others because they disagree. So I think it is OK to be intolerant of intolerance.
What do you think?