Setting Down the Ground Rules
It is part of our current social and political climate for everyone to take sides. Now, in a political campaign, this is usually only two sides in our system. Occasionally, a third party might slip in, but it rarely determines much beyond the speculations of the pundits of such events. I truly love this little stir of the port. In that skein of the fabric, I like to believe that there is something that remains the great untapped resource of our society. It is those of us that participate in the process at the appointed time and we vote on a few simple flyers that crossed our path or on the numerous ads that flood the airwaves for months before the date of our vote. This untapped resource needs to find a way to be represented the rest of the time.
In search of this method to plug the spigot into the keg, I began to submerge into the culture of 24 hour news channels, their blogs, and the occasionally side podcast of familiar commentators. The flash flood of graphics, sounds, and humorous insight brought me to understand more and more of the ugly underbelly of our political system and our society as a whole. It continues to amaze me that I can be so proud to be a citizen of this fine country while the ugliness that shows when the creature is flipped over for all to see.
In the onslaught, I have tasted a few bad stories. I have been sheltered from a few bad commentators. In all of this, I have formed an opinion and today, it was solidified by deeper questions that I will explore in later postings. This one needs to touch upon the true symptoms of the ugliness.
So, I took a moment to test this little thought of writing with different angles and different viewpoints. I wanted to understand, as I usually do, but it came to me that only one fact was expressed. The ugliness had come from, as I pondered the theory, some ideological mindset based on ignorance and intolerance. It is clear that the symptom was written for a select group of thinkers. It was with an intention to influence and cloud the judgment of people. In the end, I was filled with a rant that I quickly expressed verbally.
That was hours ago and I have considered that I may have labeled the author(s) and their mindset too harshly with the adjectives of ignorant and intolerant. No. I had not. I turned to my handy internet access and checked in with my good allies at Merriam-Webster’s www.merriam-webster.com for the exact definition of ignorance and intolerance.
For ignorance, I supported my thoughts with the definition: the state or fact of being ignorant. In addition, a second quality was listed: lack of knowledge, education, or awareness. The understanding of the word crystallized succinctly what I knew to be at the heart of the matter, and it was the lack of knowledge, education, or awareness. We all face moments when we are ignorant of the other side, but we step forward with our opinions and experiences to judge the actions and intentions of others. Now, hold that thought.
As for intolerance, the definition continued to link my idea together with: the quality or state of being intolerant. This was not enough to explain all the nuances of the word, so I pressed deeper to connect the dots. I turned quickly to the definition of intolerant and found it to mean a couple of things: 1. unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters; 2. unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights: bigoted. I do love a little bit of Webster’s when it comes to the cold, hard facts.
Now, this led me directly to the simply question of exactly what the ideologues were intending in the piece of their work. Was it intended to express an unwillingness to grant equal freedom of religious expression or was it taking a hard stance on its unwillingness to grant social, political, or professional rights? That, as they say, is where the proof is in the pudding.
All of this leads down to an understanding. That is my purpose as it should be for all citizens who wish to participate. In the roots of democracy, Athenians would step forward with the education to defend their ideas and dissent against others. This was a simple act of citizenship and participation in the system of democracy. They were able to educate themselves to understand the issues from their own opinions; it loses effect if the peer pressure crushes opinions that have not found a voice. I urge all to step from the shadows of ignorance and intolerance to feel the sunlight of cognizance and liberality.
By the way, look up the definition of liberal in the future. I am attempting to understand how generosity and broad-minded are horrible things.