“History: Why A Reminder Is So Important In Today’s Intolerant World”

 

“Tolerance, openness to argument, openness to self-doubt, willingness to see other people’s points of view- these are very liberal and enlightened values that people are right to hold, but we can’t allow them to delude us to the point where we can’t recognize people who are needlessly perpetrating human misery.

~Sam Harris

Definition of Tolerance:  The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

 

I purposely choose to stay away from “hot-button” political issues but in today’s environment, it is getting harder and harder to simply walk by, pretending they don’t exist.

Our world is becoming more and more divided with each passing day.  The fighting, name-calling, downright disrespectful rhetoric hurled at one another is unprecedented.  And I find myself unable to be silent any longer.

When exactly, did we implement the policies of division that have left us loathing one another to this extent?  We’ve stopped talking to each other.  Instead, we launch rockets of insults that cut to the bone like shrapnel.

In this new-era “gotcha” game of witch-hunting, we choose our political corners of the arena and retreat methodically in order to plan our next assault.  In this new world, we have become skillful hunters, seeking out the weaker prey and when we spot our enemies Achilles heel, we pounce with fury until they are so bloodied and bruised they will never fully recover.

The new game in town is power.  And what mankind is willing to do to attain it and keep it is not only startling…it’s very, very scary.  We’re erasing our history by removing monuments meant to remind us of not only our accomplishments but our mistakes as well.  We are raising children who are being taught one way of thinking and to be intolerant to any opposing ideas or voices.

We break windows, we protest with profanity, we throw bottles at police officers trying to keep the peace like spoiled children throwing temper tantrums when they don’t get their way.  Yet instead of coming together and preaching peace through a united strength, we instead viciously attack one another.

It makes no sense to me…

It’s no longer about preservation of values, family, citizenship, freedoms…or even the people.  It’s about agendas.  Ideologies.  The promotion of hatred and division.  Political bomb-throwing has become a national sport.

When did this become our new normal??

Sadly, this has become our way of life.  In the age of 24/7 News, it has become a non-stop, back and forth bickering of insidious innuendo.  A constant barrage of slicing and stabbing, wounding and annihilating the opposition.   And oddly, we stay glued to our television sets and computers and cheer it on as though watching the spiraling downfall of our country was the Superbowl.

Some are downright gleeful at the downfall of our civilized society.

It appears, the days of civil discourse, respectfulness, healthy debate and tolerance are gone.  But are they?  I mean, is there truly no turning back?  And if so, how do we find our way back to a time of moral aptitude, unity and acceptance?

When in doubt… refer to history.  The lessons are waiting there for us, to serve as road-maps of proven failures and progresses meant to get us back on course to human prosperity and civility.  These maps make it abundantly clear:  If we choose to ignore the warnings from history, we are destined to repeat it.

Judging from our past, we can see the many similarities in the downfalls as well as the progresses through this simplistic overview:

  1. The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ:  The Temple in Jerusalem was a major marketplace, much like the NY Stock Exchange of it’s day.  It was bigger than the US Capitol Building. It was a also a place of massive trade and the high priests were getting a cut of the money that passed through the temple.  Jesus said the Temple was meant to be a House of Prayer.  He challenged their Jewish beliefs.  He accused them of corruption.  The love for Jesus by the people grew.  His support worried the priests.  Afraid of losing their power through Rome, they were determined to kill Jesus and they captured him in the dead of night to deceive and avoid public protests.  Fear for their loss of power, lack of moral leadership, corruption, intolerance and sheer greed lead to the horrendous death of Jesus Christ.
  2. The fall of Rome:  The fall of the Roman Empire crumbled after a nearly 500 year ruling as the world’s greatest superpower.  There are several reasons why such a huge, flourishing country fell to it’s knees but it boils down to these main issues:  The constant invasions of the barbarians and the mass migration of the Huns that weakened it’s military and left Rome unable to defend itself or portray the strength it needed to stay a superpower.  The over taxation of the people which caused inflation and created a gap between the wealthy and the poor.  The government of Rome grew to an unmanageable size and inconsistent leadership brought distrust of the people due to corruption and political instability.  Public reliance on an unsustainable government, corruption, greed, division, lack of moral governance, intolerance and mismanagement lead to the fall of this superpower.
  3. The Civil War:  The Civil War lasted from 1861 to 1865.  Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793 and it quickly became very profitable.  The south became a crop-based economy and relied on slavery to pick the cotton.  The north was more of an industrial society, purchasing the cotton and turned it into finished goods.  Over time, sympathy grew for the slaves in the north.  War broke out shortly after President Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1861.  The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude in 1864.  Freedom for all men had begun… Fear of change, intolerance, selfishness, greed and lack of moral leadership are the key contributing factors that lead to this incredibly bloody war.
  4. The Holocaust:  Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler was one of the most infamous dictators of the 20th century, taking over the German government after WWI in 1933.  His insatiable quest for power  lead to the Holocaust in which he exterminated 6 million Jews in concentration camps.  This incomprehensible time in history will forever be marked by a leader so corrupt in his pursuit of power, so full of greed and void of any moral compass that he stands today as a reminder to us all what true evil looks like.
  5. Rosa Parks: In 1955, this courageous woman changed the course of a nation when she refused to leave her seat on a segregated, city bus.  She is known as the mother of the civil rights movement where she fought hard to make her voice heard for the equality of all men and women.  Because of her actions and dedication to equality, people of color now enjoy equal access to education and business opportunities.  Rosa Parks showed a young nation still living in the shadows of a past filled with intolerance and hatred, how to correct itself and live together in harmony through peaceful protests and astounding courage.
  6. Martin Luther King:  Along with Rosa Parks, MLK preached love and tolerance for one another to a young, rapidly changing nation.  He dedicated his life to the nonviolent struggle for racial equality and made us a better people for engaging us all.  He was greatly influenced by the peaceful teachings of Mahatma Gandhi.  In 1963, he wrote the “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” where he outlined the moral basis for the civil rights movement.  Later that year he delivered his famous speech, “I have a dream” to more than 200,000 people on the National Mall.  In a world filled with segregation of people, selfishness, greed, stubbornness, division, anger, resentment, intolerance… MLK words of kindness and the need for unity changed our country forever.

History serves as a harsh reminder over and over again, how the lack of moral judgement along with insatiable quests of power and agendas within a society can lead to destruction of over-confident leaders and even vast empires…. It also gives us the blueprint for how to avoid making the same mistakes by preaching kindness, understanding, empathy, hard work, strength, freedom and love.

The questions for us all are:  Will we be doomed to repeat the misjudgments of the past and continue to throw rhetorical bombs filled with anger, bloodshed, division and selfishness at one another?  Is this the plan??  Or will we react as Martin Luther King and in the midst of fear, unknowns and animosity and acknowledge, “We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools”?

I am afraid for the first time in my adult life.  I worry that our country will not be the same for my children and grandchildren.  The evening news is filled with hate-baiting, montages from agenda bolstering advocates.  It’s hard to see the truth in anything they say.  Do I turn it off and simply pretend the fire doesn’t exist?  Or do I peacefully protest as I’m doing now, following the example of Rosa Parks?

I long for the days of kindness, love, picnics, boy scouts, baseball, lemonade stands and Barbie dolls.  Not this constant bombardment of daily hypocrisy from our government officials and so-called journalists, fighting like children.  Their greed for power is like a beacon in the night sky reminding us all to look back in the rear view mirror and open our eyes to can happen when our moral compass goes astray.

I am confused at what they hope to accomplish through continuing to divid us?

We have to stop fighting with one another.  We have to somehow find a way to come together for the good of our country, our way of life… for our children.  We have to be smarter.  If we cannot find a way to be more tolerant of each other, to stop talking and screaming and truly listen to one another, we are doomed to the same fate as those who came before us and failed.

We must learn to compromise.

Our forefathers gave us lasting advice and it’s time to heed their warning:

“United we stand, divided we fall.”

Life is not always a box of chocolates… and it’s way past time to be adults.

Thank you for listening to my ranting!  I love my country so much… and I love ALL people.   #KindnessMatters

Can’t we all find a way to get along?

Hugs & God bless~

Michele Mathews

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