Diversity on the Hill

The first Muslim representative on the Hill was big news, but I just heard about the first Buddhist on the Hill today.

A more diverse House could be a sign that our representative government is starting to look more like the people it represents. (Remember when it was a big deal to have a Roman Catholic president?) But I’m not ready to shout from the rooftops about our pluralistic leadership just yet.

Tolerance is not an easy thing, a mentor once told me, because to be truly tolerant, you must be able to listen to the viewpoints of those who are intolerant. Check yourself — are you up to the task?

By the way…Wouldn’t the new atheist intelligentsia have a field day with that statement? I interviewed Sam Harris while writing for the Camera, and I suspect he might put this in the category of “idiot compassion.” Or maybe it would fall under his larger umbrella of religious moderates being too tolerant — so tolerant that they let fundamentalists quite literally get away with murder.

The caveat is that the intolerant, the fundamentalists, the extremists — call them what you will — will always be around. Therein lies the wisdom of tolerance not as an antidote, but as a balancing factor. One Muslim man and one Buddhist woman will not turn Congress into a pluralistic love-in any more than a few religious moderates can stop hate crimes or racism. But perhaps they can provide much needed balance in a world full of people living at both extremes.

2 thoughts on “Diversity on the Hill

  1. Another case where a Goode comment is very, very bad. With voices like Hirono’s coming to Congress, it gives us hope for greater human tolerance and a turn towards understanding and cooperation – away from the isolationist, arrogant selfish stance the U.S. has trended towards in the last six years. Aaaahhhh!! I feel like I just took an hit from my allergy inhalant! I can breathe again!!! Hirono is Albuterol for the brain.

  2. Oh the many pearls of wisdom we reap from JF postings.

    The concept that true tolerance comes from being able to sit (well, perhaps at least on your hands) and accept intolerant verse no matter how egregious is simple … but so difficult. And necessary.

    It’s when the intolerant verse moves to intolerant acts of violence and oppression that we run into trouble.

    I consider myself tolerant on a religio-socio-politico plane but when it comes to hate mongers and the like, I find myself teeter-tottering. I am NOT tolerant of the Bush Administration or of, let’s say, a guy at a bar who tells your troubled best friend she’s fat… and for this I reap an abundance of stress and angst. I suppose this is akin to cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face. Ouch.

    I would make a terrible Buddhist right now… but I’m trying. Tolerance of the intolerant — though not to the point of personal annihiliation, we hope — is something we can all benefit from.

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