Turkey, Tolerance, and Trump


Bigot, homophobe, sexist, intolerant, hateful. People are throwing these words around like spoonsful of mashed potatoes at a Thanksgiving food fight. As someone who hates conflict, I tend to want to hide behind the nearest garbage can. But the argument hasn’t died down about our president-elect and what he represents to many in our nation. Why not?

Maybe people are bigots and evil, or at least ignorant. But does that mean they don’t belong in this country? Does that mean they don’t have the right to believe whatever wrong thing they believe?

Some people believe the moon landing was faked and others believe lizard men live among us. That is less harmful, probably, than believing that they are better than someone with a different skin color or private part. But does bad thinking invalidate their rights? We’re supposed to hate evil, but does that extend to hating people who believe evil things?

I have been wrong about many things in my life. Yes, I know it’s shocking and you would never know that looking at my current, enlightened state. (Insert sarcasm font.)

But I appreciate all of the people who tolerated me in my ignorance and even, with gentleness, helped me see the truth. The people who yelled at me and shamed me didn’t earn my gratitude. They weren’t less right, but as someone who didn’t realize my error, I railed against them rather than hearing the wisdom of their words. Do we want to sit around the dinner table with our opposite-leaning family members and bite our tongues this Thanksgiving, or have a huge fight?

This is why Trump won the election even though a good many people in our nation think he is Hitler. (When you call everything Hitler, BTW, it loses the effect.) All the “bigots” and “intolerant” turned out to the polls. The scolding, intimidation, and threats did not move those who disagreed with “reasonable” expectations. Most people, especially the ignorant ones, didn’t change their mind during the arguments.

Maybe now, instead of moving to Canada or seceding from the country, we should change our approach toward evil or misguided attitudes from one of shaming and opposition to one that embraces the attitude of tolerance, even towards wrong thinking.

I don’t say that we should permit evil. Definitely not. But to seek out people’s thoughts and intentions and preemptively condemn them: That didn’t work. Neither did public shaming or intimidation.

Instead of fretting about what has happened and what might be, take control of the situation and move forward. Be an example instead of a blaring megaphone. Try showing and broadcasting the positives of love and tolerance, the fulfilment it brings, instead of the condemnation of the indignant righteous.

Eat your veggies, not just the pumpkin pie, and take a deep breath. It will be OK.