Intolerant Tolerance

Intolerant Tolerance

Adrienne BoettingerMonday,14 December 2015

Recently I checked out the Facebook page of one of my brothers with whom I disagree constantly on pretty much all socio-political issues. He had just commented on a post I did for The Snap Download and when I clicked on his page, I saw images and articles that made my blood boil. I thought about commenting and then I thought about blocking his posts from my daily news feed. And then I thankfully saw a post from a friend’s husband, who is also on the opposite end of the political spectrum, and it stopped me dead in my tracks.

He was commenting on an article from Buzzfeed that schooled people on how to delete their Facebook friends who liked Donald Trump. He noted that while he isn’t a fan of Trump, it’s pitiful that Buzzfeed thinks it’s good journalism to help people create their own echo chambers — to winnow it down so that we only hear the voices with whom we agree.

My friend’s hubs probably just posted it and forgot about it but it’s been rattling around in my brain since I read it. When I was an annoyingly earnest teenager I prided myself on being so tolerant and inclusive. I fought against cultural biases and stereotypes to the point where I was pretty damn insufferable — particularly to my one dear aunt who had what I thought was a racist attitude about Japan, prompted by her belief that fighting in World War II shortened her husband’s life. How she didn’t slap me upside the head escapes me entirely. Not because I think her ideas were right but because of how rude I was to her at times. She didn’t get upset or outraged when I hoisted myself on my soapbox and listed all the ways she was wrong. I’m not kidding myself that I ever swayed her but she never shut me up or shut me out. She continued being sweet and supportive to me no matter how I treated her.

We all have people in our lives with whom we disagree. That’s not a bad thing. No matter how satisfying it can be to have people agree with you in your outrage against one thing or another, it’s boring as hell to interact only with people who think the same way. It’s not just boring, it leads to intolerance of others’ opinions and even stagnant thinking. So not only will I not block or limit the Facebook and Twitter feeds of family and friends who have different ways of thinking than me, I’m going to try each day to read, view, or listen to a story from news and media outlets on the other end of the spectrum.

This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my appreciation for political correctness — what I think used to be called polite and civil discourse. It means I can’t accuse others of not confronting their own biases if I’m not willing to examine my own.

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Image Credit: Britt Reints on Flickr

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