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Essay: Tolerant Societies are Hard to Maintain

September 7, 2016
Plain English Version

What does it mean to be tolerant? It means you can accept this idea.   Other people and groups have the right to hold views that are different from yours.

Here are some of the ways this country accepted different views:

  • Ending slavery
  • Giving women the right to vote
  • Allowing workers to join unions
  • Ending discrimination based on race
  • Ending discrimination based on gender
  • Protecting the rights of minorities

These are just a few of many examples.

Nations go through different periods. Most of the Western nations became more tolerant after the end of World War II.

The world is now a less tolerant period.

What is the hallmark of an intolerant society? It is nationalism. What is nationalism? It means putting your country first, usually at the expense of people who are different from you.

Europe is seeing a rise in far-right parties. The United States is seeing the Republican Party become far-right.

People in America have faced some hard times. Eighty years ago the “New Deal” enacted programs to help people get jobs. Today, hard times have led to the “Tea Party.” The Tea Party says the government is the cause of the economic problems in the country.

What happened to being tolerant? The arrival of immigrants can test the tolerance of a nation. Voters in Great Britain and Germany blame immigrants. The arrival of Muslims is testing the tolerance of Europe. Why Muslims?

  • Muslims look different
  • Muslims practice a different religion
  • Muslims do not assimilate
  • Muslims may be terrorists

The fact is that almost any of the above statements has some truth to it. But the accommodation of change is the law of nature and should be the law of nations.

The U.S. Republicans have put Mexicans and Muslim migrants together. The Party and its presidential candidate are saying migrants are a threat to the nation. Those Americans who think the U.S. is on the verge of collapse might agree.

Many will say that jobs and migrants are the questions for our times. It is to traditional values that we look for answers. Little in our national history points to finding a solution in the rejection of others.

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