Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Tolerance Project

I notice a lot of bloggers in the blogosphere do a lot of typing and talking. But I oftentimes do not see any action to follow-up all the hot-air. I do not wish to be one of those bloggers who only talks and types. I really have a driving urge to get out into the community and make a change. (Since I live in the deep south, this is not nearly as easy as it might sound).

So, in order to help fascilitate a change like this, one of my friends and I are working on something we've dubbed The Tolerance Project. I've decided that I will share the project in it's many stages. First, let me give you an overview.

The first thing that we are working on is a lecture for the Middle School Grades. This lecture will be about forty-five minutes, with a Question & Answer session afterwards. there are five public middle schools in our school system, plus the school that my friend goes to (A K-12 private school). We have already recieved permission for this lecture to be given to his school's Middle Schoolers. We will be inviting the principals (or perhaps the assistant principles) to watch us give our first lecture. The point of this will be for us to "sell" our idea. We will wish to give these lectures at the public schools as well. But we're almost certain that the principals will want to wath us in action first.

That is the first step in this project. Perhaps if we keep working at it, we can speak at more public event for the entire community. Perhaps at a local library, or something similar.

Here is a rough draft of our outline for our research paper that we are compiling for this project. Please take some time to read it and critique it.

Imagine: Working for Peace
The Tolerance Project

Question: “How can we use the ideologies and methodologies of past peacemakers in order to become more accepting of diversity, more tolerance and to live more wholesome and happy lives in regards to ourselves, our families, our neighbors and our world?”

Purpose: “To educate others in the rich diversity that exists on Earth as well as to promote tolerance of these diversities in the hopes that such tolerances will eventually lead to global peace.”

I. Section One (Introduction)
A. Statement of Purpose
B. Statement of Driving Question
C. Brief Overview of History of Human Peace

II. Section Two (Past Peacemakers)
A. Spotlight On: Peace Pilgrim
B. Spotlight On: John W. O. Lennon)
C. Spotlight On: Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi)
D. Spotlight On: Mikhail S. Gorbachev)

III. Section Three (The Future)
A. Diversity: What is it? Why does it matter? How will it make the world a better place?
B. Tolerance: What is it? What does it mean? How will it make the world a better place?
C. Inner Peace (Spotlight On: Peace Pilgrim)
D. Familial Peace (Spotlight On: John Lennon)
E. Neighborly Peace (Spotlight On: Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi)
F. World Peace (Spotlight On: Mikhail Gorbachev)

IV. Section Four (Conclusion)
A. Diversity: Why it matters.
B. Tolerance: What it can do.
C. Peace: A Long Term Goal and a Charge for Youth

Oh and as always: Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tolerance and Its Limits

A point was made to mean on my last post about tolerance and Fahrenheit 451. While I don’t agree with most that this person believes, I must address this issue.

When I started writing this blog, I never got around to defining what I meant by “tolerance”. I figured that ‘tolerance’ was a commonplace enough word that I did not need to define it for the purposes of this blog. I figured that intelligent people were well, intelligent enough to know what I meant.

However, a flaw was pointed out in this logic to me by a fellow-at-odds with my point of view. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the motive behind burning books was good and pure at heart. The purpose was to be completely Politically Correct. To not offend any person, party, or group was the goal of their burnings.

But in their goal to be ultra-tolerant, the people in the book forgot a few things.

First and Foremost amongst these forgotten things is that there are some things and groups that for which there can and should be no tolerance. Amongst these groups are child molesters, child abusers and rapists. For obvious reasons (and not-so-obvious ones that will be blogged about one day on this blog) these three groups as well as others immediately send out alarms of disgust and shock into most normal humans.

But things that people identify with, things like their age, religion, sex, race etc. These differences that a personal born with (and chooses as a personal preference for acceptable legal activities) are the sorts of things that are to be tolerated.

Behaviors that are illegal are illegal for one (or more than one) of three reasons. The first of these reasons is safety. This is the most common reason that an activity or act will be deemed illegal. It is for this reason that murder is illegal; to protect the rights of citizens against others. The second reason is proactivitiy against other illegal activities from taking place. A common example of this would be the banning of guns in public places. The third of these reasons would be basing them off of religious traditions.

The third reason is the stupidest reason in the world for a nation as diverse as the United States of America to base a law. I’m not talking about laws which might fight into all three categories or ones that fit into category three and another (No murder, being one of these examples). Not being allowed to have a shop open on Sunday (or on any other “Holy Day”) is forcing society into a set of dogmatically ordered rules of conduct that instruct people to do things that would in any other setting be called silly in a manner that (in any other context) is silly.

If one person or one group of people would like to do something (or not) do something (that is morally and legally correct) on a certain “Holy Day”, then bully for them. But when that person tries to force his or her beliefs on me or on a nation as a whole, they have crossed a lone.

I can think of very few things that intrude on me more and make me angrier than unsolicited proselytizing. Having an intelligent conversation about differing opinions on religion, politics, ethics or moralities if, of course, a different ball game. But when beliefs are being force-fed to me, I get angry, I get irate, and I get as intolerant as the sort of people who go around and force-feed their beliefs.

I suppose that I should wrap up this post soon. I’ve made my argument that certain groups are not deserving of tolerance and I’ve illustrated a situation in which (to me) a group that is normally tolerated loses that privilege. I would just like to add that the problem of figuring out tolerance’s limits for our society is not my problem alone. Nor is it the Environmentalists’, nor the clergies’, nor any one group. The problem belongs not to America, but to the world. This problem of intolerance and where it is appropriate is a world-wide problem that should be addressed in the near future. Also, tolerance cannot be had unless those in charge of our nation remember that democracy is not just about majority wins all. A democracy is about the majority looking out for the minorities’ rights. Otherwise it would just be two wolves and a lamb voting on what would be for dinner.

Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.

Monday, June 2, 2008

In God We Should Not Trust

I've been waiting a while to pen this exact piece. This is for various reasons. One of the foremost of these reasons is that I was unsure of where I stood on the issue. But I have since resolved that personal dilemma.

I now know that I am firmly and whole-heartedly against the inclusion of "In God We Trust" on our national currency and of "One Nation Under God" in our pledge (even though the entire pledge is ridiculous in and of itself (but that's a matter for a later post)).

While the inclusion of these two very short phrases in our everyday lives might seem like a trivial and insignificant detail, it is actually the manifestation of a deeper exclusion inherent in modern-day American society. This is the tip of the iceberg of a terrible, heinous and near-national prejudice against a group of United States citizens (regardless of what George H. W. Bush thinks).

The exclusion of such a large group of citizens (and any size of group that is being oppressed or discriminated against is a large group) should bring images of "No Irish Need Apply" or signs on one group of bathrooms saying "Colored" and signs on another, nicer set saying "White".

And that is what these words are doing. These two phrases are giving a government-endorse message to atheists, nontheists, a substantial percentage of freethinkers, and even some agnostics that they are second-rate and second-class citizens. (As was already pointed out, some people (and even leaders) even use these phrases as an argument to prove that these groups are not really citizens).

How such an atrocity can be perpetuated in a country that is hallmarked as the "Leader of the Free World" and the "Land of Opportunity" is beyond me.

The condemning of any group of citizens to a lower standard than any other is not a democracy nor a republic. It is an oppressive state, regardless of how good of an illusion it might give of being a free and open society.

This heinous action has already gone on for half a century. Why should we not usher in the new decade with a new "national motto"?

A motto that would serve all the nation's citizens, like "United We Stand, Divided We Fall" or take the time honored words of American dignitaries like Patrick Henry ("Give me liberty or give me death!") or Benjamin Franklin ("There never was a good war or a bad peace") or Thomas Jefferson ("...deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...") or even the catalyst of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine ("You can't destroy an idea with an army.")

Would any of these proposed mottoes really be worse than the highly offensive and oppressive phrases that dominate our currency now? Do any of my proposed phrases discriminate against any groups in the way that the old ones did? Are these newer mottoes not fairer and more even-handed representations of our country? If there is something I missed, and I am offending someone by one of these proposed messages, please tell me. I do not wish to do so. I feel that the motto on our currency should be one that includes all people in the country. Citizens should not be afraid that their own governments are discriminating against them.

Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.