Tolerance

March 8, 2019 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , United States

Pamela Drew photo

 

By

Ed Meek

 

 

Since the “Make America Great Again” folks are obsessed with returning to the past, perhaps they might consider resurrecting a word not used much these days but popular in the halcyon days of my youth: ‘tolerance’: “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.” (Dictionary.com).

 

At first tolerance seems like kind of a weak response. It is more fun to attack our enemies and support our tribe. Who among us doesn’t like chanting? It is uplifting to raise our voices as a group. Whether it’s chanting ‘MVP!’ or ‘Lock her up!’, there is the same identification with our brothers and sisters. While in one case, we are on the positive side of the emotional spectrum and on the other, expressing negative feelings, may not make much difference. People like to feel they’re part of a clan; it feels good to be on the same wavelength. Particularly when so much of the news is divisive, resulting in our feeling left out. Sad.

 

Tolerance, however, includes a degree of self-control. Self-control appears to be in short supply among Trump supporters; the lack of self-control may even be a characteristic they emulate in Trump. He tells it like it is! They trust him to express what he feels and it doesn’t seem to matter when it is false as long as it reinforces their own feelings about say, immigrants. When Trump claims terrorists are coming across the southern border, it sounds right if you don’t know any better and if there is one thing you can say about many Trump supporters, it is that they don’t know any better. Furthermore, Trump’s idiotic half-truths are repeated by Hannity and Limbaugh and countless right-wing radio whackos. Then they are supported by fake Facebook postings and twitter bots. So how can we blame the Trumpets?

 

The problem with tolerance is that it sometimes involves open-mindedness. We know from the work of Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind that conservatives are not very open-minded. Open-mindedness is a liberal trait. That is why conservatives do not like change. So, while the rest of us were celebrating our acceptance of gay marriage and women’s rights and affirmative action, conservatives were getting more and more uncomfortable which probably made them frequent unisex bathrooms even more than they would normally. When Trump offered them a chance to vent about all their pent-up discomfort, they jumped at it.

 

Nonetheless, with the rise of hate crimes and the locking up of refugees in camps and the separation of mothers and their children and the weekly shootings at the mall and in the schools, conservatives may be starting to long for those days when we did not attack each other just because we disagreed. Those days when we admitted that we don’t have to like each other to get along. Those days when we went as far as to admit that people who don’t believe the same things we do are entitled to their own opinions. I might believe in a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion but at the same time respect someone else’s right to believe that abortion is wrong.

 

Although many Trump supporters really want to make America white again they may as well accept the fact that it ain’t gonna happen no matter how much Ann Coulter rants about it and Donald Trump declares his ineffectual wall is a national emergency. Since we’re reliving the good old days, we’d better bring back tolerance if we want our Republic to have a chance of surviving the Trump era.

 

 

 

 

Ed Meek

Ed Meek writes poetry, fiction, articles and book reviews. His most recent books are Spy Pond (poems) and Luck (short stories). You can follow him @emeek on Twitter.

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