2016 was a difficult year. After a brutal presidential election campaign, news reports are full of reports of violence, racist vandalism of religious buildings and disrespectful, if not illegal, harassment of minority races and religions.
In just a few weeks, a new President of the United States will be inaugurated. A little less than half of the citizens who voted will look upon this event as an opportunity to move America back to its roots and thereby move the country forward. Another group of voters, still less than half but numbering a couple million more than the first group will look upon the presidential transition as an existential threat to our democracy.
Depending on your perspective, 2017 presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to fulfill America’s vision. Or, it represents a threat akin to the Civil War and the upheaval of the late 1960’s. Either way, it’s an occasion to shape our community, country and world, for good or for ill. How we address this opportunity will affect the lives of our children, grandchildren and future generations – and I’m confident I am not overstating the importance of the next year.
I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolutions, and it is even more rare to share them publicly. This year, however, the world in general, and I in particular, have a need to be reminded that tolerance and good will are sorely needed.
What is tolerance? The definition here is “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.”
In order to be tolerant, one does not have to accept as true the beliefs of another. One just has to respect them. One just has to show a little kindness.
As a Christian, a Freemason and a judge, I believe it is my duty to treat all my fellow human beings with respect and dignity, at least until their actions show they are not entitled to that respect.
So, my resolution this year will be to do a reflection once or twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) on Tolerance. I hope you will email me with your thoughts, feedback and perhaps your own reflection on tolerance that I may be able to post on this blog (on Saturdays).
I do appreciate your company on this year-long journey.