The importance of tolerance
Tolerance is an important characteristic that, with practice, can be learned. As the saying goes, "No man is an island unto himself."
Unless we live a hermetic life, we are destined to come into contact with those who, perhaps, are not like-minded, do not look as we do, think as we do or adhere to the same moral code as ourselves.
Our country has been called a "melting pot." We have always welcomed to our country those who longed for freedom. On paper, welcoming the stranger sounds easy. It is not. We often distrust those we do not know. We cling to those most like ourselves, wary of those different from us.
Refugees flood to our borders in search of a better life. Because our economy has suffered many setbacks during the past few years many Americans are either "un" or "under" employed. Many of us look upon the immigrant as an outsider or intruder who is in competition with us, waiting to take our jobs. Even those who live near us can be thought of as strange or even dangerous.
In my opinion this is one reason that groups such as the Rocky River Writers and Readers can be quite valuable. This group of senior citizens from across the Westshore area come together to share an interest in writing and literature. When a bunch of strangers from different communities, with different talents and different socioeconomic backgrounds can sit together in one room and freely express ideas, beliefs and emotions – and remain viable after eight years of meeting weekly – someone must be doing something right. To my knowledge no one has ever been turned away from the group. Quite an accomplishment and a great example of building tolerance.
During these troubling times, perhaps, we should reflect upon what we have in common, teaching our children tolerance and acceptance of others. Community after community, state by state, country by country, we can hopefully create a better, safer world.