Social Problems....Intolerance: An Open Letter To You
I think it is important to tell you where I came from before telling you where I am now. I was raised by good and loving parents. Having said that I can also tell you that they had a racist streak in them a mile wide. Japanese and Black Americans were the main objects of their racism and although it was a very subtle and often unspoken racism it was racism nonetheless.
To a certain extent I can understand the source of their racism and intolerance. My dad simply hated the Japanese because he had fought against them during World War 2 and Blacks were on his list because he had lived during race wars in St. Louis as a teen. My mother, as was her nature, hated what my dad hated. I doubt my mom could have given you a single reason for her racism if asked but having lived with her for twenty-five years and known her for fifty-two years I can say with all certainty that the racism never subsided within her.
I credit college as the main reason why I grew up differently. Once exposed to the real world and different cultures during my college years I was able to see my parents for what they were. I did not love them less but I was able to form my own opinions regarding a variety of subjects including race, religion, politics and sexual orientation.
I wrote an article awhile back about fear and ignorance in which I talked about the subject of racism and how most hate is fear-based. I certainly believe it to be true regarding my parents and I consider it the truth regarding intolerance today.
With that said I will now begin my letter to those of you who are intolerant.
DEAR MR. OR MRS. INTOLERANCE
Why do you care?
Why do you care what I believe in? Why do you care what I do with my life? The last time I checked living in general was a full-time job. It certainly is for me! Taking care of myself and my loved ones keeps me quite busy. I simply do not have time to worry about the beliefs of others and quite frankly, even if I had the time I wouldn’t give a rat’s patootie!
One of the things I love about the United States is the basic principle of freedom. As long as I do not harm another person or my country I am allowed to think and act as I wish. In fact, part of that basic principle is that if I want freedom for myself I must be willing to give that same freedom to others. Correct me if I’m wrong but that seems self-explanatory and not really open for debate. Am I mistaken? Did I somehow miss a class in college when they discussed the loop holes in that principle? I think not! So let me ask you that question again: Why do you care?
Why do you care? Why do you care what my religion is? Whether I am Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist or Agnostic, why do you care? Is it somehow a threat to you if I believe differently about God than you do? Is it even a threat to you if I don’t believe in God? Why do you feel compelled to tell me what God wants and what God believes? Do you know? Have you spoken to Him and has He answered you because if He has then I want a ticket to that show.
I truly don’t care what you believe in; you can believe that an aardvark is God and that’s fine with me. I don’t have to socialize with you and I don’t have to buy into your aardvark theory. I simply let you be and go on with my life. Pretty simple don’t you think?
Why do you care? Why do you care if I like President Obama or Ron Paul or any of the other candidates? Why do you care if I am Democrat or Republican or Libertarian? Why do you care if I paint myself green and hug a tree or go to a convention of the American No Party? Come to think of it, what difference does it make to you if I vote or not? Is it somehow affecting you? Is it such a blow to your serenity that you feel the need to shout at the top of your lungs your opposition to my political beliefs?
Why is that? Why are my beliefs so threatening to you and they must be threatening because you are so upset over them? I simply do not understand and I need you to explain it to me.
Why do you care? I need to know why it matters to you whether I am black, white, yellow or brown? Regardless of my skin color or the nation of my origin I still laugh, cry and love. I am still a parent and I have family; I still find joy in the laughter of a child and weep at injustice. We have so much in common and yet you seem terribly concerned that my skin is a different pigment than yours. Cut me and I will bleed, just as you, and show me compassion and I will glow, just as you.
If I am Iranian or Chinese or Kenyan or Irish, do you really think I am sub-human? Tell me, please, why you need to use special names to describe me; why is it okay for you to use hateful names, derogatory names? Does it make you feel superior? Does it shelter you from your own insecurity and fear?
Why do you care? If I love another man, or woman, why is that important to you? I hear you say it is against nature or against God’s will? Bring that God before me because I dearly want to have a chat with Him or Her. How could an all-loving God, which you believe in, despise me for my choice in lovers? Did He not create both of us? What I suspect is if there is a God He really doesn’t care much about my sexual preferences but you, in your myopic, senseless beliefs, do care and you have decided it is your duty to announce to the world my heathen ways. I only have one thing to say to that: WHY DO YOU CARE?
BEFORE I GO
I guess that’s about all I wanted to ask you at this time. I know I’ve given you a lot to think about so I’ll stop for now. Or have I? Is it possible that you are so hateful that you are simply incapable of listening to an opposing point of view? When did this happen to you? I really want to know? I know you weren’t born spiteful and intolerant so when did the change take place?
Is it possible that you are a mirror of your parents, that you spent so many years in an intolerable home that you naturally swing that way now that you are an adult? Is it possible that you were indoctrinated with hate for so long that you don’t even realize that you do hate? How could that be? I grew up around racism and yet I stand before you today free of racism. Wait! Could it be that you have chosen to be intolerant? Could it be that in those quiet moments when you are alone and afraid that you need to lash out at anyone who is different than you so that in some mysterious way you will feel better about yourself?
So many questions and so few answers. I hope you will take the time to answer my questions at some point because this really does trouble me and I hate being troubled. My main concern is that if I become too troubled I will turn into a petty little dispenser of vileness just like you and that just does not work for me.
2012 Bill Holland (billybuc)
- Those who hate
Those who hate; A poem about intolerance and hate