Freedom of choice, free speech and endless opportunities were once the phrases that stood foremost in the thinking of Americans and anyone in the rest of the world who entertained a dream of coming to America. These words have morphed from their denotations, to their present connotations with great speed, but never more so than in the last quarter century.
Tolerance is a call to allow others of different political, social, philosophical and religious persuasions to be a part of what has long been established in the nation. Sister, diversity, is the gate keeper of new changes that tacitly are the promise of a way to better living, through change itself. The slogan of Barack Obama’s campaign and now his administration is ‘change we can believe in.’ No need to criticize that grand notion, all we need to ask is; how has that been going?
Change is good with practical limitations applied but total change may actually be the axe that smashes the foundations of a people and brings their social construct to the ground. Finding ways to control and utilize the great Mississippi River are changes that we accept but should the river suddenly change course the nation would be plunged into confusion.
It is only when we ask and attempt to answer the question, ‘what is the motive behind the call to change;’ from which we would expect an entirely new reality to emerge. Tolerance and diversity is a concept that has gone largely unexamined and has no clear definition. By allowing other ideas, cultures and behaviors on a new grand scale, do we mean to establish them? If they were not already established why are we allowing them? If they are transient, nascent and mere bumps along the cultural journey of a people then aren’t we submitting our nation to the rule and sway of pop culture? Is it possible that we would rather have Lady Gaga running for president than say, Michele Bachmann?
How have the religions, social concepts and political persuasions we are so eager to allow, fared in their own settings or place of origin? Has Islam done anything to pull nations out of seventh century social patterns that see women as chattel, children as shields for terrorists and other cultures as the great Satan? Until that happens, what is our keen interest in the new to us religion predicated upon? What is the attraction?
Why weren’t we suddenly driven to study and allow the Taoist religion of Japan into our culture immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor? We were all willing to accept that Japan had given us full reason to see her as an enemy. What has changed in the American psyche that after watching two of our tallest buildings crumble to dust with 3,000 people in them we now are urged to refrain from labeling the perpetrators of this act as terrorists. We are encouraged to allow them to build mosques and we have charged or commissioned entire governmental agencies like NASA to reach out to Muslims in good will. It is from these kinds of changes that we get the first clues that tolerance and diversity not only need to be better defined but they need to be scrutinized from top to bottom.
Calling for other ideas to be tolerated is at the surface a very noble idea. When changes are forced on people against cultural norms already accepted and practiced, the real purpose of the call to change becomes apparent. It is not the acceptance of others ideas and cultures that is being called for; it is the establishment of them against what already prevails. That, by any other name is known as an invasion, or as some might say an attack.
In order for tolerance to be effective it must by nature be allowed to raise questions about what is true and ultimately what is practical. You can toss socialism around or fling it in the face of every American, but we have been established as a capitalistic society and we didn’t get that way overnight. It has been thoroughly tested and proven to work, where socialism is still floundering around the globe and nations have risen and fallen trying to make it work.
When it was accepted that we were a people of the Constitution, founded on Biblical principles and open to any private capitalistic venture that the imagination could conjure, we stumbled from time to time, but this great river flowed in only one direction. Now we spend our days struggling to define, address and categorize the so called ‘change we can believe in.’
An advanced degree in psychology is not required to see that any relationship predicated on changing a partner’s entire personality, characteristics and basic beliefs, is doomed to failure. Even if a mate is very young the odds are against us, if we think we can remake them into our own image. America is no young mistress anymore but she is a fully developed woman of the world and the idea the she needs to suddenly be transformed or changed is as absurd as trying to reverse the flow of the Mississippi.
It is here that we can say that change is good if it is not an invasion of our culture that results in its demise, but it is not worth anything if it is founded on ulterior motives and practiced at the expense of honesty.
Trying desperately to pull America out of the great cultural melting pot she has always been, and drop her in the great sludge pot where everything is forced on us to the exclusion of our own seasoned and well formed culture, is a kind of rape. We naturally go on the defensive when this happens and the evidence of this active defense is seen in the new isolationism so apparent in terms like, the left, the right, far left, far right, centrist, independents and libertarians. These terms indicate our level of resistance to the great sludge pot of change, not that we can believe in, but that is wrecking the country, if we would be honest enough to admit it.
There are as many definitions of these almost overused terms as there are terms but in general anything left of center could use any one of the following definitions. It can’t be wrong if it feels so right. My opinion is as good as law. Keep God out of everything. The Constitution is not progressive and should be re-written. I have a great secular education therefore I’m too smart to be wrong. I’m too ignorant to know what you are talking about. I keep an open mind that hasn’t any room for you or your ideas.
Those to the right of center can be described by other definitions gleaned from their oft repeated exclamations and assertions. Such as; I like America the way it used to be. We should check if that’s constitutional. We’re proud of our men and women in uniform, let’s pray, stop spending our money faster than we can make it. Abortion is murder. Gay is not natural unless you mean you’re just happy. What does the Bible say about that?
As for those in the center it is hard to imagine a more miserable place to try to balance a life without very much clear definition. Centrists remind me of the scriptural passage in which Christ offered the only definition that would actually describe the middle of the road position. To wit: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Rev 3: 16)
As a note of caution we should be careful not to see the more active or perhaps the more militant of those on the far right as some kind of extremists. No one need be naïve about the fact that there are extremists in many areas, but when someone or a group tends to be a bit more candid or honest about things that does not make them extreme.
Case in point, some have chosen to call Jihad Watch, Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs or Gates of Vienna, Gulag Bound, The Steady Drip and other blog spots and organizations far right or extreme. Look again; first they have never claimed to be perfect, but after re-examination it can be seen that they are no different than most other right wing organizations but they are far more honest and willing to go into greater detail than most. If that bothers you, you need only to ask how skimming along the surface or skirting the safe borders of an issue works.
A visit to most news outlets today, even if they are right wing or conservative will net you page after page of blab about the economy, question after question about what or when a candidate for president or congress will do something and a few pieces on the Smurf movie or Lady Gaga’s latest antics. For some people news has long ago ceased to be entertaining, life here in America has gotten far too serious for that.
Bill O’Reilly took years to finally express his opinion that the world has a Muslim problem because of Jihad and terrorism. He was nearly booed off “The View” and had to spend weeks explaining his position to his own viewers. He was not wrong but that ever so slight jog further to the right nearly created a public tsunami that he could hardly handle. Organizations like the aforementioned start off where O’Reilly only goes on occasion.
Soldiers of truth don’t end their support of the troops when first blood is drawn and they want to know the extent of the victories and the defeats. There is no successful warfare without knowing both. To show the world the enemies of democracy, freedom and this very nation, can never be called far anything. It is always right to tell the truth and to uphold the great country we all have been so blessed to be born in.
Copyright ©2011 Rev. Michael Bresciani