Tolerance in America
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.