This last week I read an article about folks who where make it an issue with neighbors who plant gardens in their front yard. I looked at the pictures and said yes it surely would not meet my definition of a neat and tidy lawn. I would not be thrilled with a neighbor with a lawn like that next to me initially, but a well kept garden is just as deserving as some green grass mono-culture that sucks water like there is no shortage of clean fresh water.
I shared it with a friend at work and we talked about we have become a society intolerant of others who don’t meet our personal belief system. I am not sure if this is true or we have such a loud group of folks who are ready to share their intolerant attitude of others who they see as “wrong.” I think it is lots of big talk and very little respect for others.
I think this verbal intolerance started with our politics. I’ve been reading lots of people complaining about the president and the government. I get it. I am not happy either with the state of affairs in our country either. In many ways for me it is quite disturbing because I feel we, the grassroots people, have allowed the corrupt political system to make so many of us think “us vs. them.” Either you are like me or you are an idiot. What is even worse, is that all most people are willing to do is talk about it. Talking is never going to change anything, look at what is happening in Washington DC and you will see what I mean. Lots of with” us or against us” thinkers. Lots of verbal bashing, that makes us even less likely to see the value in others who don’t think or live like we do.
I am old enough to remember a lot of presidents, some I considered complete idiots; their names are not important here. Just because I thought the public representative was an idiot, did not mean that my neighbors, friends and co-workers who supported them were idiots. It meant their life journey had given them a different perspective than me. Maybe I agreed with the end desired result or maybe not, but it did not make them or their point of view any less valuable than mine. Sometimes I could listen and see how they looked at things that way and other times no matter what they said I didn’t get it. No matter what, many of them I had choose for friends and the fact that we would not agree on everything was not a reason to throw them away. I would not demean their opinion if they loved orange and I hated it, or hated cats and I loved them. How can we have friends if we don’t respect their opinion? We don’t have to agree with it. When we say others who hold the same opinion as our friend are stupid, by any reasonable thinking we have just said the same of our friends. Name calling is easy. Stepping back and saying honestly don’t get it, but chose you for a friend so are going to respectfully disagree. It doesn’t mean I am not going to share my on thoughts on things or ask you about yours. What it does mean is that I am not going to devalue yours, and I ask that you not devalue mine.
I feel we have allowed this easy verbal bashing of others in politics has carried over to intolerance in so many other things. Some people feel quite passionate about like their religion, others seem quite nitpicky like the fight over gardens in the front yard. We tend to classify large groups of people together as we see them and give them our names. We call them Evangelical Christians, greenies, NRA’ers, commies, tree-huggers, Republic, Democrat, Tea-party, transplanted Californians…and the list goes on. I am sure we have all done it unfortunately. This generalized naming has done more to separate us than join us. We are better than that.
I am not Pollyanna and thinking the we are all going to ever agree, nor should we. It is only with disagreement that change can come. Nor am I saying I am ever going to understand why some folks think the way they do. What I am saying is others may be pulled in to this demeaning name calling of those who they don’t understand, but I don’t want to be part of it. I don’t want to be the only woman in a group of men and be declared the one logical woman and rest are emotional idiots. I don’t want to be your one friend isn’t the same religion as you. I don’t expect you to embrace what I think, but when you call others who think the same way as I do unAmerican, idiots, hell bound, pick your word , I have to wonder what you really think of me.