I apologize, but I’m going to take a short break from poetry to rant a bit. I’d love to hear your feedback on what I have to say here.
I’ve often heard the old saying that a person should never discuss politics or religion. Well, I think that’s just code for “I can’t tolerate people I disagree with regarding politics and religion”. Now, I find in today’s climate of vituperation and vitriol a confirmation of my theory. Aspersions cast have replaced discourse in virtually every segment of academia, politics, policy, even comment threads present on any news or propaganda site across the Internet.
A steady stream of zealots and rhetorical talking heads have hijacked ideals such as tolerance, morality, respect, equality, and freedom. We used to hold these up as common values connecting even the bitterest rivals. Now, they are weapons used by one political/religious/philosophical group to eviscerate its opponents. What once united now divides.
This brings me to another of my personal truisms. “There is no such thing as tolerance.” Some have come to equate tolerance with acceptance; they believe if another person chooses not to accept a point of view or lifestyle, that person is therefore “intolerant”. Some have come to equate tolerance with excuse; they feel they are no longer asked to tolerate another’s point of view, culture, or skin color, but accept their lifestyle choices, their “sins” which corrupt the susceptible minds of the young and degrade the fabric of society. As you read this, you probably nodded your head in agreement with one definition of tolerance or shook it in anger at the opposing definition.
But neither view represents tolerance in its purest form. Tolerance means being able to disagree without throwing stones, verbal or otherwise. We’ve lost this art as a people. I fear we’ll lose much more in short order if we don’t shake ourselves of this foolishness.
And so to my confession: I am a deeply flawed, tainted man who also happens to be a Christian, devoutly so. When it comes to politics, I am a moderate conservative. I used to be a Republican, but I no longer understand what that party wants.
As a writer, I suppose I am neither of these. While my faith is present in my every thought, I write the stories and poems as they come out. I try to craft them into art and leave them for the reader to pick up or discard. Proselytizing doesn’t faze me, but I’ve found the subtlest message are most effective. Because of this, I write almost any genre using whatever tools are at my disposal to create something worth reading.
What do tolerance and discourse have to do with my confession? I’ll let you answer that question, but I have a few other questions first. When I identified myself as a Christian, what went through your mind? Did you nod in agreement and kinship or shake your head dismissively in anger or disagreement? One is acceptance, the other is not. Neither is tolerance.