My Youthful Integration …

NoToleranceThere is not a one among us who has been a perfect human being. We have all said things that in retrospect we might have wished that we hadn’t. Sometimes, we lose patience, speak in anger, don’t choose the most artful ways to express our point of view. Our lives are not scripted; we have no TelePrompter or speech writers. And so it is, we screw up. We all have done it, but we are reluctant to accept it when it’s done by another – especially if their views differ from our own. I don’t really know where I am going with this, so bear with me, please. Tolerance. Such a delicately cryptic thing to ask. How does one truly tolerate that which one does not approve of? It’s not easy, but many of us try. Often we try simply through silence. Most of us don’t make a big thing about it – or get outraged over it … but some do. Some label themselves, proudly, as a tolerant and enlightened new breed of Man. GLAAD, for example – Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation – they DEMAND tolerance. But, there’s a hitch. You MUST tolerate THEM, their questionable life-style; their in-your-face way of force feeding their views. You see, they want to be shown tolerance, but they don’t reciprocate. They tolerate you only if you agree with them.  Barring that, there’s a bad ending. If you, like Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty, says something that he believes in, but the “enlightened” person/group doesn’t – crudely as he may have phrased part of it – well then, you will not be shown the same decency & tolerance. Then GLAAD will say you have the right to say it, but the employer has the power to do what they want as well. There will be consequences. What GLAAD does, and other over-zealous advocacy groups of all stripes do as well, is became a gang of whiny, bullying, banshees that intimidate the corporate leadership to very possibly go against what they believe and certainly against what is fiscally responsible to their business. They bring them to their knees through very aggressive, well-organized, arm-twisting. I grew up 3 or 4 houses away from the New York City line, but in those days, the whole town of Valley Stream was practically lily-white. Except for baseball games on TV, and I rooted for the team that broke the racial barrier in baseball – the Dodgers – I can’t really remember seeing a black person in Valley Stream. Not until a young lad moved to our neighborhood from Haiti. What a great kid he was. In school, there were no blacks, 2 or 3 Asians, 2 or 3 Hispanics, the rest were all white, mostly Jewish, Irish, or Italian. I was completely unaware of homosexuality, even though, I learned later, 2 brothers across the street were just that. I’m not even sure they knew back then. We were among a group of best friends. Girls & boys. Whites, one black, and a Puerto Rican. Heterosexual and homosexual. We all played together and grew up together. Some would go on to be liberals, some conservatives. Great childhood. Got a little older and there I was on a Hussy Bus trip across the country. One of the ladies was black. She became a very good friend of mine. A gay guy painted me a picture I still have hanging on my wall. When I became a Record Store manager in Hempstead, which had a very large black population, we catered to them and had the largest Jazz selection around. The older black men loved me for it. Later, moved on to Secure Psych Unit as an aide. The black guys I met there were just like me, we bonded, and depended on one another for our safety and survival. Oh, a couple of black guys played in the same band I was in at one point or another. There was never a gender, race, or sexuality issue in my life through all that time and that was because we didn’t look at each other through that prism. We looked at each other as people. Individuals. That has drastically changed in the past 30 years, or so. People see in groups. And those groups must think the same, and that causes the victim-hood syndrome of being a perceived minority. And that causes resentment, which results in demands, which then morphs into intolerance, though in the name of tolerance. It’s a mess. And it leads to situations like we had with the Duck Dynasty guy – a show, BTW, which I have not seen a single minute of. Before this, my only exposure to them was a few appearances one or two of them made on The Five. So, that’s my life experience with gays and non-white folks and it’s always worked out just fine for me and I assume those I had contact with. Strangely, the only time I felt a strong discrimination against ME was one time I was the only guy in a Lesbian club in West Hempstead, NY. I was there as a guest of one of the ladies. I was given the cold shoulder by many in there, and an elbow shot to the ribs by a dykish lass playing pool. Not nice. We’ve drawn the lines, made the relationships between groups too complicated, and this is what we have ended up with. It really doesn’t have to be this way! We’ve made inter-relating and conversation so much more difficult than it needs to be. A few steps back would be helpful.

~ originally posted elsewhere in December, 2013 ~

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