Advocating tolerance

I've been pondering the shooting in Arizona for a few days now. I don't claim to have any answers, but I've reached a couple of conclusions.

Without taking a stand on gun control, logically, if we are a nation that refuses to let go of guns or 30 round semi automatic cartridges, then we need to get over our shock that someone mentally ill or someone with an agenda would use those tools... not on targets, but on people. I'm not saying I'm okay with horrific acts, just that I'm no longer surprised by them.

Without taking a political stance, if we as a nation continue to be okay with political or social rhetoric that alienates portions of our citizenship from each other, then we cannot claim to be aghast if that rhetoric inflames someone to the point of illegal acts, be it a bombing of an abortion clinic, the shooting of a political figure, the burning of a cross on someone's lawn or the mailing of "suspicious powders".

While we all have the right of free speech, if we take public stage with it, by speaking before groups, by publishing a website, by radio or tv show, it seems to me that we have the responsibility to tolerate our opponents differing opinion while expressing our own. Divisive speech does nothing except fragment us as kinsmen and in some cases, arm those that would be easily swayed.

Because of my work with people with disabilities, I see the attitude of inclusion, acceptance, tolerance in my everyday life, through my family, my co-workers, the people we serve. I also see the flip side where people who are different are occasionally, not accepted, not tolerated, not included.

For that reason, I could never be part of any political or social movement that didn't advocate inclusion, acceptance, tolerance and the ability to embrace (or at least tolerate) differences instead of mocking them.

Please feel free to disagree with me. You have every right.

AG out