By now, I expect that just about everyone in America has to have seen this bumper sticker. So I ask you my friends. Is this possible? Can we ever actually coexist? Is there room for tolerance on behalf of religion as a whole and the people that the same religion is bound by edict to be at odds with? I know what the answer is at the level of the individual. I know it is possible because there are plenty of believers who see their faith, their God, and their message as one of peace, love, and tolerance. I know believers who can look at their uncle (a gay man) with unabashed love. And to come to the defense of his partner in the face of hatred and bigotry. I know these people, and I love them. But then I see these guys.
And I don't understand. I question the coexist concept. Is there room to coexist with them? The only answer I can come up with is no. Coexistance requires mutual respect and an openness and willingness to tolerate. How can I coexist with them? How can any of us coexist with people that hate others, particularly when that hate is so central to their being.
Our nation (for all it's victories) has a history of resisting tolerance. The power base has challenged every cry for equality. Why else was the concept of "separate by equal" ever given any ground. If we want equal, why must there be separation? If we always thought that blacks, Indians, women, etc. had to be GIVEN the same rights well after the fact? Why was equality something to be conceded by the "white man"? If equality is the ultimate goal, why have we hedged it against so many individual groups? Why is it okay in the 21st century to denigrate gays with the same hatred we showed blacks and women in the 50-60's? Why does freedom of religion come with a national caveat that feels a lot like "Freedom of MY religion", or "Freedom to be Christian"? I understand a national hatred against the people who enacted 9-11, and I even understand the greater sense of threat at the behest of another religion that wages war against different faiths around the world. But the uproar over the "ground zero" mosque. How can we square the circle of being a nation of religious tolerance, and still have an underpinning of intolerance for the "slight" and "insult" that would come from letting Americans who disagree with our own personal beliefs build a place of worship, based on the proximity to the sight of an attack that happened as much against them as any of us. Coexist folks. Turn the other cheek. We are all Americans. But yet we hate "them". I remember that the last time we gave into hate and fear over the makeup of American citizens in the face of an attack. Manzanar. We interred our own citizens because WE couldn't trust THEM. Can we coexist when there are people that can divide the nation into us and them, for any reason? Even if it's me against the Hillsborough contingency?
I want to believe that electing our first black president was a very profound statement, but the fact that this simple act is so profound speaks volumes to our society. Can a woman be president? A Mormon? A homosexual? An atheist? My thoughts?
Woman - Maybe. But until we get rid of the people who (and this happened to Angela) call in and being told their request can't be fulfilled ask to speak to a MAN, I can't see it. God forbid 5 days a month we give the launch codes to a person with PMS. The irony being that a little less cocksure bravado and dick swinging might actually have reaching effects to a world of peace and understanding.
Mormon - I mean, from a religious perspective, Mormons share enough of a central belief in Jesus that they shouldn't really be seen as all that different than Baptists, Catholics, or any others. But there is a "healthy" distrust in Romney by the base in large part because of the mistrust in his take on faith. I think A Mormon could be electable, but I'm not sure Romney is that guy.
Homosexual - I think there's no chance. I think to a vast swath of this country, homosexuality is so central and fundamental to immorality that they may as well be atheists. Fear over the policy implications and backlash hinder any chance of real acceptance in America today.
Atheist - No chance. We are all morally corrupt satanists (still can't figure out how I don't believe in God, but I do believe in Satan) that will sink the country into a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah. And no, that's not directed at believers in general. It's toward the ones that can't see past that term as a morally corrupt concept at it's base.
Coexist? I can't see it. I can't imagine tolerance in an intolerant society. Where there are labels, and borders. Things we use to divide each other into groups, so we can judge them. Black, woman, Jew, atheist, gay, stupid, fat, etc. To define people into categories serves only one purpose. To separate us. And as long as we willfully accept divisive policies into our society at the behest of any "belief"...religious or not. No. Coexist is a fantasy on the same level as world peace. Maybe I should make a TOLERATE bumper sticker. At least that might be feasible. And yeah, I'm patenting that.