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It’s getting harder and harder to be tolerant of intolerance!

I’m becoming more and more concerned about the direction people are headed. No, I don’t mean headed in their RVs. I’m talking about what’s become a very rapid decline in the number of folks who are tolerant of others. Intolerance is now the norm. Fewer and fewer people seem willing and actually able to listen and respond to others with civility or even basic politeness. Emily Post might just be rolling in her grave!

Intolerance has become a badge of honor for far too many folks. (Sometimes even me, I’m embarrassed to say.) I think this is because we’re surrounded by intolerance. It’s loud. It’s obnoxious. It is always in your face. It’s like a highly contagious disease. Fewer and fewer people have self-imposed boundaries. There are no filters to what is said or being posted or printed. So, intolerance metastasizes.

The definition of tolerance has changed

Tolerance has been twisted to mean something that is much different from its original definition, as well. It used to mean a willingness to allow the existence of opinions or actions that you do not necessarily agree with. In today’s world, tolerance has been misappropriated to mean more than a willingness to be polite, but rather to applaud and heartily agree with. So, tolerance in our current culture means you must join in and even promote the ideas that do not align with your own beliefs or norms. You cannot just agree to disagree.

We used to be a society of brainstormers or free thinkers – with an emphasis on “free.” Not anymore. I no longer feel comfortable sharing my ideas and opinions as freely as I once did. Why? Because no matter what I say, no matter how politely I state my opinion or present an idea, no matter my reasoning behind the idea, there will be someone – no, actually quite a number of folks – who will rip into my words like a wild beast tears the flesh off its prey. It seems as though we’ve all forgotten that a free discourse of ideas generates even better ideas.

Kindness is no longer valued

True tolerance and kindness are no longer valued. Here’s what I mean. If you and I have a differing opinion, one of us is wrong. And not just wrong, but heinously wrong. Maybe even wicked, depending on the topic. Should I be so bold as to state my personal beliefs (emphasis on personal), I’m immediately made painfully aware that my beliefs are rubbish. What’s more, they are fresh fodder open to cruel public ridicule by people who do not even know me. At all.

I like communication. I’m a writer. I enjoy words. But more and more I find that I’m questioning every single word I write or say aloud. I have no desire to hurt anyone’s feelings. I do not believe I’m always 100 percent right on every topic I take on. But in order for me to learn – in order for all of us to learn – we need to become respectful toward one another again.

If my opinion rubs you the wrong way, I hope you’ll say something. I really do. But I hope you will thoughtfully choose your words. Not to shelter my tender feelings, but to create real discourse. You disagree? Tell me. Then explain your point of view. But don’t insult my intelligence or others’ who may read or overhear your response with a collection of words that may have originated in a fourth-grade restroom. The precious commodity of open communication requires more than a simple knee-jerk reaction. Words matter. Sure, they can hurt another. But name-calling, belittling, or harsh words tend to shut down any intelligent discourse, as well.

What will the world look like for future generations?

I’m not thin-skinned. I couldn’t have survived this long had I let the caustic words of others get to me. No, I’m not thin-skinned, but I’m sad. Really sad. Because I wonder what the world will be like for my grandkids and their children. Will civility be all but lost? Will anyone dare to voice an idea? And will kindness be deemed obsolete? Or will those with the loudest, crudest voices so control the more timid brainstormers that free expression of ideas will be lost forever?

Don’t tell me who’s to blame. Because no one person, illness, or invention could have destroyed the beautiful art of conversation, the open and free exchange of ideas, that we enjoyed in the past. I just would like everyone to listen and/or read carefully. Then think before responding. An intelligent (and helpful) response is a thoughtful expression, a logical and precise way of civilly or kindly rebutting the idea of another.

Holiday gatherings are here. We all have the chance to infuse kindness and respect into our conversations with friends and relatives. Will you agree with everyone’s point of view? Probably not. But I hope you’ll take the time to listen – really listen – to the ideas and opinions that others put forward. And then, after listening respectfully and giving careful thought to how you will respond, I hope you’ll use civil, even kind words as you politely participate in what could be a revival of a great treasure: conversation!

Related:

Road rage and RVing: Don’t be a roarin’ rager!

##RVT1028

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Mike Johnson
8 months ago

After retiring I took a part time job as a cashier at a large national home improvement chain( not the orange one) and I have now been there for five years. When I first started I would encounter a rude, self entitled person maybe one out of every two to three hundred customers. Now it is seems to be more like one out of every one hundred or so.

Denise Gray
8 months ago

Gail, what you have written is perfect! I am at the point that I do not discuss anything political, religious, or anything in the news. I walk away from anything that people start getting upset about, as I just don’t want to be involved in their discussion, whether I agree with them or not. What a shame, our society has come to this…

Rose
8 months ago

Gail, well said. I hope the people that most need to read these do so and understand them for what they are.

Lindalee
8 months ago

Oh, Gail, I’m so glad someone with your ability to write thoughtfully has expressed MY sadness so well. I miss the days of civility – not JUST in conversation but on the road, too. Road Rage now seems the only way to drive – didn’t it used to be different? So, thanks again for your well worded article!

KellyR
8 months ago

I read the article, and I read ALL of the comments. Then I laughed and laughed and laughed. I found that I tolerated all of you.

Ken
8 months ago

Wow, some topic to promote tolerance! I would be happy to just see televised debates like those of the past with William F Buckley. Why don’t those take place anymore? Ask the college Administration and the Professors of indoctrination.

rvgrandma
8 months ago

Look at what is in the TV programs, especially comedy shows, in movies, in the video games, etc the last few decades – intolerance. It is all about me, me, me. My kids were raised under Christian principles and manners – saying please, thank you, open doors for others, etc. They left home, got into the above mentioned things and most of that is gone. TV, movies and video games make it alright to be rude, mean, bully, sarcastic, degrading, etc. That is why I watch old shows I grew up on.

TerryH
8 months ago

Not just random, the COMMUNISTS/ SOCIALISTS/ MARXISTS are planting seeds of dissent/ distrust w/ intent to destroy America; they control the left-wing media that is their trumpeteers against Conservatives and American Values/ Statues/ Flags/ Churches/ Politics/ whatever and everything/ anything that creates confusion and disruption and (THEY) have been VERY effective at Brainwashing the masses, without them even realizing they are being so effectively played? Riot in the streets, Politicians in their pockets, Criminal released from Prisons? Spy on neighbors, brainwash kids to spy on/ report on their parents/ neighbors? Pornography in grades schools? LABEL parents as “Domestic Terrorists”?… all part of their plan. Insanity is NOT recognizing YOU are being played by forces intent on OUR destruction? IT CAN happen, check history?

Mike Johnson
8 months ago
Reply to  TerryH

I hate to disagree with you, but in my experience it is more of the right wing conservatives that seem to be the rudest. Now, having said that, I don’t like the far right or left wing nuts. LOL

Carson Axtell
8 months ago

I believe the incentive structure of media, both mainstream and newer social outlets, are to blame. Humans are genetically disposed to react to exciting or fearful messaging, so media editors decide content based on the age-old saying “If it bleeds, it leads.” Media only cares about capturing as many viewers as possible to monetize them by selling their audience share to advertisers. They have also discovered that the “stickiest” audiences can be captured by feeding them fears that match their demographic profiles, which too often coincides with partisan political, social and economic “philosophies”, and the more irreconcilable the ideals the better. By driving these differences to “life or death” thinking, intolerance of divergent opinions and thoughts is the certain outcome…along with repeat viewership. It’s gotten to the point where we can’t even agree on facts anymore, so what chance do opinions have?

Last edited 8 months ago by Carson Axtell
Kasey
8 months ago
Reply to  Carson Axtell

Yes, 100% agree. It doesn’t matter what side, what angle, etc. They’re all just trying to make their dime and make the dime for their shareholders. And they’re doing it by fear-mongering and inflammatory reporting. People who aren’t angry or afraid don’t read (click, whatever) nearly as much.

Drew
8 months ago

Agree with the article. I guess you could just leave it without the comments. I think those are stirred up to anger as well and so don’t serve any good purpose. What if you had to sit down and write a letter to the editor?

Roy Davis
8 months ago

I cringe when people start touting tolerance. Tolerance is not part of history. Society has been intolerant of many things since the beginning of time. I am not tolerant of evil. As a minister I will defy anyone to find tolerance anywhere in the Bible. As a matter of fact, we are not to tolerate anything contrary to God’s word within our lives or our church. There is a difference between tolerance and kindness. As the Amish say, “you are to love the sinner but never the sin.”

Jeff Craig
8 months ago
Reply to  Roy Davis

As a Minister, you should know that God (Jehovah/Yahweh) is just the latest in over 3000 deities across recorded history. Who says that ANY religious beliefs are the ‘correct’ ones? I’ve seen plenty of people who repeat your ‘sinner/sin’ quote, and they devote their time and fortunes to attacking those ‘sins’. The families behind Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-a are notorious for this. Christ was a fountain of tolerance. He hung out with lepers, sinners and whores, and never passed judgement on them – something I often find lacking from those who claim to spread his word. I agree with you that there is a difference between tolerance and kindness. The world needs more of both. Everyone (myself included) has to learn to take a breath before reacting to a harsh word. But, we should use that moment to see the perspective of those who we disagree with. Our own actions may be the real ‘sin’, not those of others.

Roy Davis
8 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

Yes, Jesus hung out with lepers, sinners and whores, and never passed judgement on them, but he also said to the women caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more.” He preached ” repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand”. The message of the prophets, John the Baptist, and the entire Bible is about repentance and returning to God.

Virginia
8 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

I do believe the language in the Bible is quite intolerant of certain peoples’ behaviors. Jesus had to be coerced into healing the Canaanite child. He threw a tantrum for the money lenders. He was quite intolerant of sin. That does not mean he also was not forgiving. I believe he said “Go and sin no more.” Not, “It’s okay, I understand.”

Linda
8 months ago
Reply to  Roy Davis

I respectfully disagree with you. The Bible does enjoin us to “Love thy neighbor.” In order to love the sinner, you need to accept them as they are – sins included. I don’t believe you can use the word “love” if your intent is to accept them only until you can change them and thus get the person to the approved definition of worthy of your love. I don’t believe any portion of this article was asking you to become tolerant of evil. Being tolerant in a conversation with others is not a request to be tolerant of murder, rape or other true evils.

Roy Davis
8 months ago
Reply to  Linda

Jesus said we are to love our neighbor, but He also said, “Go and sin no more”. Loving someone does not mean accepting their sinful ways. God doesn’t hate the sinner but He will not tolerate the sin. The ” love wins” is a theology that isn’t scriptural supported and actually contradicts it.

Joseph Phebus
8 months ago
Reply to  Roy Davis

And I cringe every time someone brings the Bible up as a basis for how we should treat one another in America. Our Bill of Rights and Constitution are hallmarks of compromise and tolerance, religious tolerance in particular. The right to follow religious practices and beliefs, or not, is enshrined in it and neither is favored or disfavored. In a perfect union, we get to live free as long as we don’t infringe on the rights, freedoms and safety of others

In America, you can practice whatever faith you want in your personal, life, pray to Jesus, Yaweh, Onan, Baal saints or parking meters and it’s to be tolerated. We can also choose not to.

If a simple, although difficult, rule for living is needed, how about: “Harm no one, including yourself.”

Last edited 8 months ago by Joseph Phebus
Dick and Sandy near Buffalo, NY
8 months ago

Because I have traveled around the Sun for 78 years, that makes me old school. I. I was raised where we knew all the other kids and parents for blocks around. And if you messed up, your parents were told and you got physically punished and everyone knew about it. I was not a good kid, I got into lots of trouble. The worst was for Grand Theft Auto. The Judge said you are going to prison or you are going into the military service but you are not staying around here. That is when I volunteered to join the US Air Force in 1962. In the military you are watched 24/7. I still got into trouble but minor stuff. In todays world it is too easy to hide behind a keyboard and do things to others you would not do face to face. And unfortunately the bigger the lie you tell and the more times you tell it the more people are going to believe you. People don’t check things out, they just jump on the band wagon on what they like to hear. So sad. Stay safe, Stay well

DW/ND
8 months ago

In my opinion – Clint and Vincee – comments below – hit the nail right on the head! Our society, as a whole started rapidly changing with Vietnam. Then the ending of the military draft. Basic military training is the first true adult opportunity to learn respect, acceptance, how to hangup your clothes and much more in life’s realities. Things which should have been taught in the home and in meaningful education have been lost to history. The article by Ms. Marsh is timely and forthright and predictably going to get contrary comments – but I guess that is what it is all about – right? Diversity. Tolerance. Acceptance. Opinions! (The only one of these you’ll find in the mainstream media is “opinion” – no news or acceptance!)

wayne
8 months ago

Well we have all heard the saying Gail that…”there is nothing new under the sun!”
And if it’s under the sun…it’s not new.
Division has been with us since Aden and Eve.
Eve was deceived! Adam, wanting to get along, just followed like a sheep.
The next generation, evil prevailed with Cain killing Able.

Some probably immediately called for gun control.

Leslie Berg
8 months ago

I think that what many people demonstrate on line is different than their everyday behavior with their neighbors and fellow citizens person to person. People are often rude online, and for many, there are nuances in speech and non verbal communication that print doesn’t convey. I live in a very rural setting equidistant to two small towns where I do shopping and errands. There is a large population of Hispanic and Sikhs, many which are business owners, intermingled with typical Caucasians in both towns. I’ve lived in this area for 22 years and people have always seemed very tolerant. I realize we all have a bit of a Mr. Magoo way of mostly seeing life through our own perspective and experiences, which is naturally short sighted. But the online phenomenon is quite new, so I don’t think we have fully incorporated its limitations. When I experience news and YouTube (or similar) comments, I can have a very bleak view of my fellow man. But person to person, it’s still civilized.

Juls
8 months ago
Reply to  Leslie Berg

This is where it all crashed down. You nailed it. And this is what our kids and grandkids are being raised on. It’s no wonder opinions are not valued anymore. There is an opinion in every nook and cranny of the internet. Intolerance is putting it mildly.

The power of words has never been so demonstrated until it was blasted across the internet.

Even these assorted comments are reflective of the vast differences of opinions – and highlight how some are just there to stir up trouble.

Great but sad article. It is a true sign of the times.

David Binkley
8 months ago

Those who preach tolerance are the least tolerant of them all.

Tamara Fox
8 months ago

I totally agree with you. I wish it wasn’t so, but I don’t really see things changing for the better. The beast is out and you can’t put it back in.

Allen
8 months ago

The best part of this article is the comments, where a few Trumpists took the opportunity to do exactly what the writer was warning against. I find it difficult to be tolerant of anyone who admires that piece of work. Unfortunately, I think they comprise the majority of the RV crowd, and that’s one reason I avoid campgrounds altogether.

David
8 months ago
Reply to  Allen

And you just did exactly what you accused the “trumpists” of doing. It’s happening throughout both sides of the political spectrum.

John_Brown
8 months ago

Matthew 24:12 – 1599 Geneva Bible

12 And because iniquity shall be increased, the love of many shall be cold.
=====

It will never happen, but, if every USA high school student was forced to do one year of schooling out of the country in a 3rd world country or two years in the military, to get their high school diploma, we would have less rudeness and intolerance, imho.

Mary
8 months ago

I totally agree. Thank you for putting your feelings and thoughts out there for all to read and hopefully discuss civilly.

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