I believe in the right of all people to position themselves against or in favor of polemic issues. I believe in the right we all have to try, using arguments, in a coherent and civilized way, to defend our positions and to try to convince others using those arguments. I believe no one has the right to humiliate another person for his or her personal convictions.
Unfortunately intolerance is a reality. And intolerance comes from all sides. It is very easy to call someone intolerant because she refuses to believe the validity of homosexual marriage. Even if this person uses democratic means in civilized and respectful ways to convince others of their point of view. A person who dares to express an opinion considered unpopular is now accused of intolerant - simply because this person expressed a personal belief.
On the other hand, the current society tries to convince us that certain groups are above good and evil. The gay community, for instance, is made up of tolerant and loving people, people who possess good taste and super human sweetness. It is as if being gay turned any regular person into a model citizen. If you think gays are tolerant simply for being gays, try to explain what happened when I tried to explain my personal belief to a person I considered a friend of many years. After making it clear that I respected his right as a citizen to do whatever the law allowed him to, I explained that my religious convictions established certain parameters by which I guided myself to understand right and wrong. I explained that, among countless things (many of which I was also guilty of), homosexual behavior was considered wrong as well. I explained that such issue would never prevent me from being friends that had such behaviors.
This person, without my permission, took my name and my words, put them in public discussion on Facebook, called me a liar and ridiculed my convictions. Others liked it.
So what have we here? Public humiliation and ridiculing are now valid - of course, as long as they come from a homosexual against a religious person who dares to express an pinion.
Now I ask - someone who ridicules a person in public, exhibiting a private conversation done in civility and respect, does that person deserve to be called a friend and nice person? A friend - that is what he will not be called anymore.
Intolerance - the attitude of which people who hold more conservative views are usually accused of - will countless times come from those who call themselves open-minded people. They believe they have the the right to their opinion. But only they do. Isn't that funny? If anyone has the right to not be bullied for being gay, don't others have the right not to be bullied for having a religion that believes that homosexuality is wrong? Does tolerance only favor one side?
In one instance I was accused by a teacher of being religiously intolerant. She didn't even care to hear my arguments. When I opened my mouth to to say there was a mistake on the exam, she immediately shut me off and told me to leave my religion intolerance outside. All I was trying to explain to her was that, on that exam question, which asked us to compare the text (a fictitious conversation between God and man at creation) to another literary work, the correct answer was the book of Genesis, not the New Testament. The teacher could have learned on that day that if was the book of Genesis, not the New Testament that talks about the creation of the world. But she preferred to publicly shut the religious student before she could open her mind. Of course, because, obviously, anything that comes from the mouth of an evangelical is not worthy of respect. So why bother listening?
This is the world we live in.
The truth is everyone is intolerant to a larger or lesser degree. That is because we all have certain values about right and wrong and don't always know how to deal with those with different parameters. However, those self-entitled pro-tolerance tend to be the most intolerant of all. Some people like to humiliate others. These people can be everywhere. They can be religious, they can be gays, they can be of any freaking position they they want.
Being tolerant is knowing how to deal with the difference. Some of us learn that. Some learn to deal with the difference. Some learn that it is necessary to respect others as human beings, even though their values and world views are different. Some learn we don't have to agree, only respect others as citizens of democratic societies. In such societies, the right to disagree is not a privilege of special groups - that is why it is called a right, not a proivilege. Could it be that some day we will all understand that? Understand and live it?
Live as if you believed in the right of people to have different opinions and and be able to use arguments to support them. Live as if you believed in the right people have to completely disagree from you. Argumentation is a tool we all have for our use. It is a right of all who have opinions. But it requires mutual respect.
Live. Speaking is easy. Living is much harder. Live a life that shows the respect you demand from others.