Tolerance is another word for indifference. ~ W. Somerset Maugham
The spirit of tolerance, though true and essential, is a vague concept. I have always grumbled – sometimes raged – at the word and concept of “tolerance.” In most situations and on most issues I care too much to passively tolerate.
The challenge we face today demands more energy, more passion. Today’s challenge is to embrace, to work shoulder to shoulder, to share the values, the burden and the benefits of the society and the culture envisioned by our founders. It’s the principle we as Americans have always celebrated with pride. We honor the fact that no individual, even the president, is the center of the universe. The core value of the democracy we share rests on the stated principle that it’s not “me” but “us”.
The Constitution goes so far as to spell out just how we go about achieving the goal of creating and living in a democracy. As a matter of fact, the Constitution is fairly explicit about the presumption –- and commitment — that We the People are responsible for making the democratic system function.
The good news buried in today’s political debacle is that the challenge to the democracy evokes the best from the nation’s residents and, in many cases, from the institutions that We the People have created over time. As we practice the fine art of crafting an enduring democracy we are increasingly aware of the means at hand – the law, the press, open elections, a just judicial system, free speech, history, education, technology (managed with care.)
At the same time, we have come to understand the sophisticated and systemic ways in which any of these can be “weaponized.” Experience is teaching us the subtle in which malevolent manipulation of the tools can undermine democracy processes and principles. Over time we have grown to realize the extent to which accepted democratic institutions and structures can be shaped to create a society and a culture that we cannot and will not tolerate. We know in our souls and feel in our hearts that we must join forces to resist with the fierce persistence and unflinching integrity democracy demands.
Once we get outside of our own shadow we begin to comprehend, if dimly, that the whole of our democratic society really is greater than the sum of the parts. We can no longer be indifferent….
Our Founders always wondered about how long it would last. The price of liberty is everlasting vigilance. You’ve got to be on your guard every minute or you will lose it. Michael Novak