Tolerance Reflections: Five Signs of Strength

Last fall when I interviewed women across the nation, they surprised me. I presupposed that when asked what one thing they would change immediately in the U.S., ending poverty or war would be the most prevalent answer. Instead, women in thirty-five states and the District of Columbia together said:  increase tolerance. Tolerance is defined as “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own.” Women urged, can’t we just talk? Why all this vitriol and divisiveness? What happened to sitting around the local diner and having rousing debates about issues, remaining friends at the end of the night? According to these wise women, one driver behind this crippling national intolerance is the array of informational or ‘news’ sources. With so many choices today, have we fallen into a rut that fuels intolerance? What happens when we get our information by listening, watching or reading only certain sources? Tolerance Challenge The 8 Weeks to Optimum Tolerance (aka the ‘New’ News Challenge) launched. I vowed to access a ‘new’ news source every week, grounding the challenge upon Aristotle’s teaching:  “It is the mark of an educated mind to be … [Read more...]

Halfway Through the ‘New News’ Challenge, Tolerance Grows & Patience Wans

On February 4th I issued the 8 Weeks to Optimum Tolerance ‘New News’ challenge. Half way through, I confess that it is harder than I expected, listening to more diverse perspectives than I usually do. Thus far, I’ve watched Bill O’Reilly lament the “Epidemic of Disrespect” in America while calling people I care deeply about, our nation’s public school teachers, “Pinheads.” I tried to find something to love about O’Reilly. I paid close attention to the Republican’s response to the State of the Union address, ripping off my blinders instead of shutting down (with envy) when I heard Marco Rubio had paid off his $100,000 in student loans debts in the short time he’d been in Congress. Instead of trying to get my head around why 22 male Senators voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, I reminded myself that these leaders (one of whom I worked for in the past), had been charged with carrying their party’s message. They may indeed be decent human beings. And, I celebrated when the House passed the Senate’s version of VAWA that expanded services to immigrant, Native, and LGBTQ women, also requiring that universities report on campus rapes. I even … [Read more...]

Four Intolerance Taming Practices: 8 Weeks to Optimum Tolerance New-News Challenge

My Grandpa used to tell me, “Point the finger at someone else and you have three pointed right back at you.” The response to each New Year’s State of the Union (SOTU) address typically serves as an exercise in finger pointing. This year, we were treated to the ‘official’ Republican response, by party “Savior” Senator Marco Rubio, and the additional rebuttal by Tea Party Republican Senator Rand Paul. En masse, Main Street Women’s pre-election Manifesto for Tolerance was a call to end the vitriolic state of the union. So far, their magic wands have produced little impact – the SOTU exemplified that. After listening to everyday women across the U.S., I realized I’d gone darned far down the intolerance path myself. (You know. I confessed to having flashes of ramming my car into others because of the viewpoints their bumper stickers express, e.g. “Women for Aiken.”) My own intolerance growth stems in part from how, like most of Americans, my narrow, personalized news sources present one perspective – the one most like mine. The ‘new-news’ challenge is beginning to tame my internal intolerance monster. Vowing for eight weeks to watch, listen to or read one news source each … [Read more...]

Hippos & Pinheads: 8 Weeks to Optimum Tolerance Challenge

Last week, I issued an eight week tolerance challenge, the ‘new’ news challenge. Like most Americans, I’ve created some deep grooves in my life road by watching, reading and listening to certain news sources without variation. In essence, my news-accessing practices mirror what concerns the wise women of Main Street most about our nation and its leaders:   intolerance is holding us back. One respected poll illustrates the divide. “Television news has become just as polarizing as the politicians themselves. Democrats trust everything except Fox News, while Republicans trust nothing except Fox News,” the President of Public Policy Polling shared following last year’s survey on Americans trust in news sources.  (http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2012/01/3rd-annual-tv-news-trust-poll.html) Vowing to increase my tolerance by getting my news from a source I don’t usually access, I watched Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor. Challenge Week One:  The O’Reilly Factor Many Americans consider Bill O’Reilly a trusted source of information. O’Reilly’s show, from my limited viewing experience, is a hybrid talk/issues show, the kind of pseudo-news rift in America. (The PBS Newshour, … [Read more...]

8 Week Main Street Tolerance Challenge: ‘New’ News One Day a Week

Today, in the interest of Mainstreet Women's cry for tolerance, I'm issuing an 8-week challenge:   One Day a Week, Let's Access Some "New" News. According to the Pew Research Center’s 2010 study, where we get our news tells a lot about our views. (http://www.people-press.org/2010/09/12/americans-spending-more-time-following-the-news/) The table below offers some of Pew's findings:  is it the chicken or egg? Do we choose our news based on our views or does the news we choose shape our views? Or, like most things in life is it a yes/and rather than either/or condition?  Main Street Man Sparks Challenge I met a great guy on a flight from Phoenix to St. Louis recently:  Adam. He's firefighter and no, this isn’t going to be a Nora Roberts’ story where romance struck at 30,000 feet. We did get intimate insofar as Adam gave me permission to nudge him if he started snoring. Adam grew up in the shadow of Chicago's O’Hare Airport. Today, he's happily married and has two children:  a boy and a girl. His son is in the military and his 16-year old daughter is just starting to look at colleges she’ll attend after high school graduation. In many ways, Adam is as “Main Street” as … [Read more...]

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