I had an interesting discussion with a coworker. He is Christian, and so our discussions tend to involve religion. We discussed the intolerance in our society. As a society, we have worked through racial and ethnic intolerance pretty well. But when it comes to religious or moral issues, we are very divided, and typically quite intolerant of someone with a different view.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have beliefs which differ from the politically correct, as well as main stream, positions. I concluded a long time ago that I cannot judge someone else based on my beliefs, particularly if the other person does not have the same beliefs. For example, I do not use tobacco, and do not drink alcohol, tea or coffee. This practice is based on the teachings of my church. However, I am surrounded by people who are not members of my church, and do not have the same beliefs. There are a few ways to deal with this:
1. Call everyone to repentance, call them sinners, and treat them like they have leprosy.
2. Treat them like friends and neighbors, let them know how I live my life, find common ground, and work towards a common goal.
3. Ignore what everyone does and let them live their own lives.
I try to follow approach number 2, but sometime I lean towards approach 3. It depends on how well I know the person, and therefore how well the person will respond to me. I have concluded that I WILL NOT be a religious bigot. If the situation is appropriate, I will explain my beliefs and why I do what I do, but often it is nothing more than letting them know that I am LDS. This will often lead to more discussion. But not always.
Back to the discussion with my coworker. He has some neighbors who are a gay couple. He and his wife have gotten to know them, and have gotten to like them. They disagree with their life style, but have decided to focus on the positive.
A few weeks ago, my coworker and his wife were having dinner with their Pastor. Their neighbors saw them at the table and came over to say hello. My coworker was embarrassed by the response of his Pastor towards his neighbors.
My intent is not to make a statement about this Pastor. I believe this type of response is common among all walks of life. We saw the protests that occurred in front of the Los Angeles Temple because members of the church worked against the proposition to legalize gay marriage in California.
All around us, we see where a person or group accuses another of intolerance, bigotry, hatred, etc, and yet the person or group is as guilty as anyone of the very things they criticize others about. Pretty soon, we have a tit-for-tat situation and it gets louder, meaner, and angrier. All this because we have decided in our society that louder is righter. We have decided that we have to be RIGHT, and the others have to be WRONG. At the same time, we have a moral relativism thing going, where we say that people can believe and do what ever they believe (of course if they agree with us).
In my opinion, the I'm-right-so-you-are-wrong, louder-is-righter, you-must-be-tolerant-of-me attitude is hypocritical, divisive, and will only lead to more of the same. Since I am RIGHT, if you don't agree with me, you are WRONG! (see how it works?)