Tolerance in America

Intolerance grows a lovely garden
Intolerance grows a lovely garden

Morality seems to beg more from the shadows today than when I was growing up. It appears more complicated and the grey now dominates the black and white which illuminated the boundaries of my life as a boy. It isn't that I question the principles that help to shape my life, but like everyone that grows up, I examine the life that may instead, have shaped the principles. It isn't the illusion that society was absent a moral ill or that the world was simply a better place back then. It just seems like there was a lot less debate about it. I didn't know then, that my sense of right and wrong, imposed itself on anyone else because the distance between the two was measured in terms I understood. People still violated right and wrong, but, they knew that they did.

Today, houses come with new improved windows and I am told that replacing my old windows would improve the view, which apparently, the years have kept from old eyes. That I view the world from an old window does not diminish what I see; It simply helps me to look at what I want to see. It was carefully constructed to overlook the garden.

I don't remember being classified while growing up. I don't remember being assigned to any particular camp. That appears to be a more contemporary apparition, meant only to identify the mysterious ingredients responsible for my prehistoric evolution. Today, the ingredients of my heart and mind are used to categorize me with neat and tidy labels. Most of them I brush aside, but, being referred to as "old school" leaves me to consider the implications of my evolving affliction. It is as though, the "old school" is somehow responsible for the mess today. It is undoubtedly, complicit in the ills born yesterday, however, the "new school" demonstrates a proficiency, which is more than sufficient to give the "old school" a run for their money.

It isn't that there is less morality today than then, its just that the distance between the two is so difficult to measure anymore. Today the two are more intimate and it is difficult, from their dance, to distinguish who is leading. There is, of course, an evolving word, which embraces the dance they share. It isn't a new word, Its just used differently today. It is a badge of intellectualism. It designates enlightenment and it disguises itself as the new frontier, where those so inclined, may leave behind the chains of previous bondage and bask in the warmth of unabridged freedom. Yes, you to, can escape "old school" and enroll in "new school". The new school has but a single mantra; You must be "tolerant".

"Tolerance" is a nice word; it implies a willingness to accept, but, accept what? Everything, anything? Tolerance is not enlightenment. It can be the torch that lights the dark room or the torch that sets fire to the forgotten house. Enlightenment certainly embraces the concept of tolerance, but, it also embraces the judicious employment of intolerance. Tolerance is the not the light which defines enlightenment, rather it is the light which tells us when to be tolerant and when to remain intolerant. By its very nature tolerance must accommodate intolerance or become guilty itself of intolerance. Tolerance has its place but its crown is no brighter than its opposite.

I am told that I should abandon old notions because they breed intolerance and leave me swimming in a pool of stubbornness. I had to swim a long ways back then to go from right to wrong. I suppose all the swimming persuaded me to choose a side, or drown from the want of both. Today there are bridges with multiple lanes going in either direction. There are cruise ships going anywhere and everywhere and nobody has to swim anymore. It isn't that I'm intolerant of people choosing their own direction; I simply like the map I grew up with. I don't make copies to give to anybody. Its strictly mine and at my age, navigating is hard enough in a world that is forever changing the road signs. Intolerance isn't clinging to my map, intolerance is insisting that everyone else should use the same map.

I was tending my garden the other day. It is something that old, intolerant curmudgeons do. I wondered of the "new school" approach to gardening. Maybe, I should let the garden be. The absence of my intrusion would give the ground the liberty to be, whatever it wanted to be. That would be a more tolerant approach. In fairness to the "new school" they aren't telling me not to enjoy the view, but, to see the beauty in the weeds. They might be right or perhaps, they have never seen the beauty of a garden grown from intolerance. In either case, I have looked upon the pleasure of the two and remain persuaded that I will tend the garden, I will not tolerate the weeds. Intolerance has laid a splendor to my ground that I do not see in weeds.

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Comments 26 comments

benson h 4 years ago

Hey Al! Very well written. I guess indiscriminate tolerance is simply turning a blind eye. Really enjoyed reading this. You are right about the new use of the word. no one once to viewed as intolerant, but everyone is intolerant about something. Anyway, take care. Karen says hello!

arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hey BH, thanks for checking me out. Talked to Karen 2 days ago. Congrads on the promo.

bmcoll3278 profile image

bmcoll3278 4 years ago from Longmont, Colorado

Very well done . Voted up

arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Well its bm for short! Thanks for reading and for a gracious comment.

kathryn1000 profile image

kathryn1000 4 years ago from London

I love that,for the content and the style.Thank you

b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 4 years ago

Wonderful Hub Arb, loved your points of view...A little of Andy Rooney there...Good one my Friend, you've got my Vote of UP too!

arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hello Kathryn and welcome to my hub.Thank you for the gracious comment. Say hello to your cat and hide the lipstick!

arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Well hello b. It has been awhile. I did a disappearing act that went bad. The disappearing went well, but, I couldn't get the second part to work.Thanks for reading and your kind comment. Love Andy, miss him.!

Angelme566 profile image

Angelme566 4 years ago

This is an in depth analysis in here. Nothing is really permanent but change..what can be tolerated before may not be tolerated today...Time change change and values change..just hoping that these values changes for better always..

An outstanding hub..

arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Thank you angelme for reading and leaving a comment. You are right about change and it will come via our consent or without it. We are left to adapt and change must adapt along with us!

randslam profile image

randslam 4 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

Great piece, Arb. The metaphor of gardening and weeding out the unwanted, unfruitful because just turning a garden loose to nature would lead to nothing gained makes its point.

Tolerance of those who are different from our own unique stance in life...should be easy...seems an ever more difficult task.

arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hello randslam, welcome to my hub and thank you for your comment and your appreciation for my lowly metaphor.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Well, being more ancient than thou, I too must bask in an aura of antiquity in many of my ways and views, and I do so without remorse or self-consciousness. What views I may have which surpass any staid, stuffy ones, also surpass the mindless blind tolerance paradigm in current circulation and are products of my own sorting out and identifying value above style and depth above popularity. Frankly, I gave up trying, expecting or even particularly wanting to fit in, please or appear cool way back when! Oh, I admit that was spared some of the grindings of the advent of general change by my personal isolation from it, in which a rather basic, visceral kind of survival took precedence. So I do have sympathy with those whose lives have been formed and developed in that tumultuous gristmill and confusion it often caused.

I'm also grateful for the principles and values with which I was reared, which preceded even Andy Rooney's time, (who was born about the time of my eldest sibling). Our parents were products from much prior to that and from most strict upbringings, so there are earmarks of great antiquity about viewpoints inherited from them, though I'm given credit for being 'with it' and undated in many ways. Fact was, our parents were not stuffed shirts. They weighed values in present time and had a remarkably balanced view of most things, including a healthy balance of tolerance for beneficial things and intolerance for malevolent or useless ones! I guess they instilled an appreciation and a knack for telling which is which, such as you so well describe here and display yourself, Alan.

It's good to have convictions, to believe in causes & projects that are beneficial - and so, to be most intolerant of stuff that gives those 'the finger'. Why must everything be tolerated? (except others' views or ideas considered to be outmoded?) Where has common sense gone?

I wrote a little poem once that says it for me:

I have no need

To defend

That whose being

Is its own defense,

Nor desire

To defend

The indefensible.

______© Nellieanna H. Hay

fall, 1971

These are great thoughts and well presented, Alan! Your garden is a paradise and your windows are perfect for its contemplation!

arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hello Nellieanna! Well the question I posed before I wrote was more than answered in your comment.I am thankful for it and it does affirm the direction which I took with this write. It is a blessing to have people in your life from which, you can affirm such things that might otherwise give hesitation.

I think it is the very illusion which the word intolerant projects, which rubs me the wrong way. Received a delightful email earlier with a brief explanation of a somewhat less than public nature,which has also added to my rest. So it is with butterflies which visit as they may. Special thanks my dear friend for simply being who you are.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Ah - Thank YOU, dear friend. As for being who I am, I'm pretty much stuck with it, so must make the best of it I can! :-) By coincidence, I also received a pleasant email. It's quite a 'world' in cyber, is it not? I'm ever amazed and gratified.

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CJ Sledgehammer 4 years ago

I took a special delight in this essay, Alan, because I am one of the most intolerant people alive today. :0)

Like you, I have not quite learned to see the beauty in weeds, thorns, and thistles, nor will I ever.

The gardeners who promote the spread of weeds never found pleasure in tilling the ground, nor did they ever learn to appreciate the blessings that come from bonding with the earth, sowing the seeds of beauty, and reaping a crop of virtue.

It takes real effort, love, commitment, and discipline to tend a beautiful garden, whereas a crop of weeds will emerge as a consequence of inaction and apathy.

Your essay is a real triumph, Alan, and please know that I, too, am enrolled in the old-school - a school I wish to never graduate.

May the good Lord be with you and yours - C.J. Sledgehammer

P.S. Voted up and away!!!

arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hello CJ! I hope and pray that your visit indicates an improvement in you Mother. Thanks for finding time to read and for leaving, the always appreciated comment. I applaude your refusal to graduate my friend.

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CJ Sledgehammer 4 years ago

You are most welcome, Alan. And, yes, my mother seems to be on the mend. Thank you for inquiring about her and for your kind thoughts and prayers.

I pray that your better half is having a blessed Mother's Day and that you both are enjoying a fabulous weekend.

rahul0324 profile image

rahul0324 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

Interesting and delightful!

In the modern days of today people do not have time for moral principles rather they indulge in the unhealthy rat races around the world.

You essay provokes thoughts which call for a discussion with our inner selves, that we need to have a deeper look inside

arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Thank you rahul. Frequent self examination opens a door to grow, change and improve. Be well my friend.

Voronwe profile image

Voronwe 4 years ago

An amazing hub, sir! I'm old school too. The word 'Tolerance' in the title is what caught my eye, your essay was very interesting and particularly engaging. By the end of it, I couldn't stop smiling in agreement and in awe of its subtle exposition and telling.

Many definitions these days, like Morality are scrutinized, they apparently seem to require redefinition and their limits to be rationally (or sometimes conveniently) adjusted.

Thought-provoking hub!

arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Thank you veronwe, I am delighted that one so young has chosen to read this essay and even more delighted that you see things in it, worthy of provocation.

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

You are a philosopher, Alan. Whether "old school" or not, your musings are wise. What some people choose to call intolerance may, in fact, be one's determination to be discriminating, particularly when that decision applies to morality. Our values should not be imposed by others, but decided upon within our own hearts and minds.

You write so eloquently that your prose reads like poetry.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

As always Jaye, your comments are reflective and discerning. I appreciate them greatly.

sligobay profile image

sligobay 4 years ago from east of the equator

Others will look at your garden figuratively, but I prefer the greater metaphor in it. There is beauty and life in a garden well-tended. Our species has been connected to the land, i.e., agriculture, since the beginning of time. Gardens are synonymous with sustenance and survival. The first "Garden" was tended directly by God before man brought on the consequence of continuous labor. We were weeded from that garden due to our imperfection that could not be controlled by virtue of the free choice given us by our Creator.

Our own gardens are invaded by weeds and varmints which we have chosen to control to assure our survival. We must protect our own fruits and flowers from consumption and destruction by removing or barring the offending natural life forces of weeds and varmints.

Similarly, our spirit is like a garden of flowers which we must tend and protect if we are to harvest an abundance. The weeds and varmints are the many temptations which are thrust into our lives under different guises. Intolerance is a tool of self-preservation. Those who espouse tolerance of everyone and everything are seeking to remove our control over the well-being of our personal and family gardens. We must choose to preserve organic, natural and pure. We must be intolerant of the genetically modified seed which will corrupt our gardens. Intolerance can be a very good thing in proper measure.

arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Thanks sligobay, enjoyed your metaphor. There is beauty and life in a garden well tended sums it up.

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