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Be a Defender of Tolerance

(Based on Brittany Beattie’s Be a Defender of the Family)
You can fight intolerance by defending John Lennon’s vision of peace and unity.
Are you aware that you can promote peace as a teenager? You have the conviction and inner power to fight for ideals which are under attack by intolerance. But how? you ask. By telling everyone around you to “Imagine there's no heaven / It's easy if you try / No hell below us / Above us only sky / Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one / I hope someday you'll join us /And the world will be as one.” (John Lennon)

You can fight the vicious onslaught of intolerance by combating it at school, at home, and even on facebook. Here are a few basic ways you can work toward the extinction of intolerance.
  1. Be inclusive. Talk to your friends about the accomplishments and contributions of those in your family who live alternative lifestyles. You can go into detail about how your two aunts have adopted a child, or the PhD program your 17-year-old transgender brother just completed, but don’t ever criticize those in your family whose lifestyles differ from what is considered normal in our present society. It doesn’t matter if those criticisms are based in reality, if there is a form of abuse in the relationship, or if there is alcoholism or mental problems at work in the lives of your relatives and family. Always talk about the good things they do, whether online or in person.
Do everything you can to make your home comfortable, clean, and positive for the benefit of those who struggle with intolerance. Think about inviting friends over when your aunts, your nephew, and your brother are there so others can learn of the marvelous love and family values displayed in a tolerant and inclusive home.

  1. Defend inclusion in discussions with friends and others. When an ideology is pushed at home or school, at work or even in an online article, show your bravery by condemning intolerance. Those who claim to know the will of God, who read their Bible and hold Sunday services, are really spreading fear and hate. You have a special calling to speak out in defense of John Lennon’s vision for the world. Your conscience will tell you what to say.
  2. Beware of how religion defines our human relationships. Much of what is taught in churches and seen on FOX NEWS contradicts values of love and unity. Conservative news sources and religious organizations often venerate a one-size-fits-all version of family life that results in isolation and heartache for those who don’t fit the mold. John Lennon had the following to say about living as one: “Imagine there's no countries / It isn't hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for / And no religion too / Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one / I hope some day you'll join us /And the world will be as one
Closed minded, intolerant people use patriotism and religion to fool you by making what is hateful and wrong look virtuous, righteous, or good. They try to mislead you into believing that tolerance goes both ways and that allowing intolerant people free speech has no harmful consequences…. You must be brave enough to avoid churches, shut the door on missionaries, turn off FOX NEWS and tune out friends and neighbors who are trying to strip you of your enlightenment in order to plunge you into the pit of black and white thinking.

When you shut out those who support only the traditional family and discriminate against others, it will be easier to ban intolerance from our society and also to build a more unified, peaceful world.

So yes, I firmly believe that this generation will be forced to battle with fear-based dogma on a grander scale than any which have come before, but when you are brave and work as a defender of tolerance, you can change the future of our society for the better. Even if others despise you for it, your behavior will help bring to pass John Lennon’s dream of living in a place where there is no creed, no war or hunger, and where “the world will live as one.”


Dead Poet said...

First, I want to say that I agree with the idea behind this. I agree that intolerance should be fought against. My only problem is with the wording of number 1. Kids should be taught to talk about the accomplishments and contributions of everybody in their family equally. They should be taught not to ignore anyone's accomplishments, whether "different" or "normal". And if they aren't to criticize anything about the lives of those living alternative lifestyles, then they shouldn't criticize the lives of those who aren't, either. Teach them to treat everybody the same, no matter what, without favoring one lifestyle above another.

We also should not shut out those who preach intolerance (persons, not organizations). We can ask them not to talk about specific things when we are with them, but if we want to show them that everyone is welcome at our table, then we need to include them, too. I have had to do this with a couple of my extremely conservative friends. There are a lot less hurt feelings than if I had told them I wasn't going to be friends with them just because they believed certain things differently than I do. If it ever got to the point where they refused to talk about anything else, then I would tell them that they weren't welcome in my home, but as long as they understand that we see things differently on certain subjects, and they are willing to avoid bringing them up, then they are more than welcome to come over.

Angela Felsted said...

Hello Dead Poet,

I'm glad you see the hypocrisy of treating those you see as intolerant as "less than" in the name of tolerance.

This blogpost is a tongue-in-cheek response to this recent New Era article:

Dead Poet said...

Thanks for the link. That article really drags on me. And I'm glad to know that this post wasn't meant to be taken totally seriously. I so hope that I can raise my kids to decide for themselves what to believe and follow when it comes to, well, everything, rather than blindly following what ever comes from the mouth of our church leaders.

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