Perhaps the thing that I will most learn from this project (and my time in Korea as a minority) will be the awesome power of tolerance. I'll admit it, I have not been the most tolerant person in my short life. My parents certainly practiced open-tolerance as I grew up and both of them have blossomed into wonderfully tolerant people as they have settled into their middle-ages with wisdom safely nestled on their side. That's impressive considering the backslide that much of America is experiencing right now. As clearly witnessed by the current social and political climate right now, reaching full maturity as a tolerant and accepting person is bucking the trend.
People have become so intolerant of others opinions, positions, and lifestyles that the mantra "Hey, it's the nineties" seems decades away...again. It's sad, but then again, I guess that means I get to wear jams again in the future. There's always a bright-side.
It's clear to me that many Americans have lost their way and in my opinion it boils down to one thing. This one thing has dictated human behavior for millennia and is certainly causing a hefty portion of the strife we're witnessing in much of the world right now.
That, of course, is exclusivity and todays Americans are terrified to lose it.
These days, it's seems like every time I read American politics, there's some loon claiming that America is a "Christian nation". Sarah Palin is leading that charge now, but there have been many before her. Why is there such a push to for this meaningless appointment? Are American Christians so insecure and intolerant of other religions that they have to make sure that everyone knows that Christians are in charge?
That'd be like saying America is a "white nation" because Americans are still mostly white. Or that since the founding fathers were slave owners and men, that America is still a "white slave-owning nation". It's outrageous and honestly quite dangerous.
Trust me though, I'm not innocent of this. It's hard, if not impossible, to be. After all, humans are members of families, citizens of nations and practitioners of faiths. I'm not particularly thrilled about China's rising position in the world, but is my intolerance or even outward anger of their status going to create anything but hatred inside me and those that I love?
What's happened is that the exclusive community called America has unlocked the front gates and now is having trouble finding enough support to close them again. What was once called the "American Dream" is now the Korean Dream. It's the French Dream and Finnish Dream; the Brazilian Dream and the German Dream. America can no longer claim to be the only one offering a "dream". But wasn't that one of our other dreams, though? Weren't we supposed to be sharing our dreams with world?
I'd like to end with this quote.
Religious tolerance is not achieved by reducing all religions to a common denominator, nor by explaining away formidable differences in thought and practice as accidents of historical development. From the Buddhist point of view, to make tolerance contingent upon whitewashing discrepancies would not be to exercise genuine tolerance at all; for such an approach can "tolerate" differences only by diluting them so completely that they no longer make a difference. True tolerance in religion involves the capacity to admit differences as real and fundamental, even as profound and unbridgeable, yet at the same time to respect the rights of those who follow a religion different from one's own (or no religion at all) to continue to do so without resentment, disadvantage or hindrance.Well put, sir.