Personal :: Writings :: Opinion :: Tolerance

Tolerance and Diversity

It seems that the greatest virtues in American society today are tolerance and diversity. By extension, showing judgement or conformity is a modern day sin. Don't be narrow minded.

Why else would the new hate crime legislation be pushed through? Why should the reason you committed a crime have bearing on the punishment? In traditional jurisprudence the only crime punished according to the intentions of the accused was murder. If it was premeditated, it was murder. If it was an accident, it could be manslaughter. Or maybe self-defense. Now, your thoughts also decide the level of punishment you recieve for other crimes. You can be punished more severly if you've ever been heard saying anything against the racial group the crime was committed against. The government is legislating what you may think now. Is anybody else scared by this?

So, why are tolerance and diversity the new buzz words of our brave, new world? Because it's less demanding. We let President Clinton get away with apalling behavior in the Oval Office. Why? Some would claim it's because we've advanced past our stifling puritanical roots. I claim it's because we feel if we don't hold the highest executive officer of the land to any standards, we don't have to meet any ourselves. It's so much easier to clear the "high" jump when the bar's only a foot off the ground.

Today, if I called you judgmental, you'd be offended, wouldn't you? It's an insult, a vile swear word you shun. Why? Judgment can't be bad, or why would we have a Supreme Court? Why would we have any court at all? After all, courts have judges, and their job is to be judgmental. We make judgments all through life. We have to if we want stay safe. I would judge that walking down a dark alley in a bad part of town at night is not too smart an idea. I would judge that a person holding a gun to my head and demanding all my money is not a paragon of society. I would judge that someone who goes out of their way to thumb their nose at society by violating its norms (i.e. a teenager with blue hair and twenty holes in various parts of their body) doesn't want to be a part of normal society. And I treat them accordingly. I know some of you are probably thinking something along the lines of the old phrase "Don't judge a book by it's cover". The problem with that allegory is you can see what's inside the book. You can open it and read it. With a person, you can't peek into their heads or read their thoughts. I can only judge what's inside by what they show the outside world. I can only judge a person by their actions. And while you may claim a criminal really has a good heart if I'd only get to know him, I'd have a hard time believing you while he's running away with my wallet.

Being judgmental is being wise. It's recognizing that a person's actions are indicative of what is in that person's heart. Tolerance is the virtue of a person that has no other standard they can aspire to uphold.

Diversity is touted as the strength of America. Some claim the diversity of our population is the reason we've risen to prominence in the world. I claim otherwise. After all, if this were true, then the Articles of Confederation would have catapulted America to greatness. But it didn't, did it? It crumbled to dust so thorougly many people don't even remember that first government ever existed. Acknowledging the different colonies (turned states) as sovereign entities in a loose alliance surely was the epitome of diversity, but diversity without common ground--with out a binding force--leads only to anarchy. Instead we rose to greatness under our Constitution. We bound the disparate states together as one nation. It was our Constitution, the one law of the land that outlined our most precious beliefs and truths, that made us great. One nation.

It isn't the fact that we have Italian, English, French, Irish, African, Indian, Russian, German, Chinese, Japanese and Korean people living in this nation that makes us great. It's the fact that we have all these different people coming here, to become Americans, that makes us great. We have this one ideal, outlined in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, that drew all these people here, to the land of opportunity. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.

I propose that it is this, our similarity, our shared ideals, that makes us strong. Our differences pull us apart, make us segragate ourselves into groups. I believe that only when we stop seeing who can shout the loudest about their differences and only when we start seeing all our similarities and common goals and ideals can we be truly strong.

Comments? Please, e-mail me!
.: :: personal :: opinions :.