March 07, 2007 Edition

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Overcoming intolerance

Vivian Heyl
TD Staff

While talking with a group of friends recently one of them said, "I don't like to judge, but what could she have been thinking to do that?" What she really meant was, "I think this person made a bad decision because I would not have done what she did." She was in fact passing judgment, like it or not. After saying this let me point out I just made a judgment as well.

Popular sayings throughout history warn us of the hazards of judging without all the facts. Beginning with the Bible's "Judge not lest you be judged" to the Native American proverb,

"To know the man, walk a mile in his moccasins," we are cautioned against leaping to an opinion without taking the time to find out more.

Yet we tend to leap first and ask later. When confronted with a new situation or idea our first impression, however erroneous it may be, is often the only one we allow ourselves to develop.

When it comes to major issues such as homosexuality, abortion, cohabitation, mixed marriages and racial biases ~ proverbs, no matter how old they are or their source, are not enough to slow us from making hasty judgments.

Tolerance and understanding are harder to come by than any of us would like to admit and all of us, no matter how fair-minded we think we are, have intolerances.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Jefferson said all men are created equal, but did he really believe that? What about women? He owned slaves. Were they equal? Even the most noble words in our nation's history were not practiced as they were preached.

Now almost 231 years later, we still need to work on those founding ideals and to learn tolerance for those who are different from us. Only then will we live up to those founding principals that we are all equal in the eyes of our Creator.

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