The perils of an all-or-nothing view

By Mike Dishnow, September 21, 2005

There is less interest in compromise and little desire to respect the views of others in our society today. This divisiveness is unhealthy and unproductive.

When individuals and groups espouse absolute “black and white” approaches to issues they do not serve the common good. To insist that one’s political or religious views should hold sway over all is the ultimate in arrogance and disrespect for the rights of others.

Our nation was formed in adverse reaction to this way of thinking.

Persons of competing philosophies will often quote the same historical figures in defending their points of view. George Washington has been quoted by both those suggesting this is a “Christian nation” and those espousing the secular genesis, as has the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson. Does this tell us something?

I cringe when I hear intelligent people state that their personal religious writings are infallible or that our Constitution is to be taken absolutely literally (as they perceive the meanings of the words and sentences).

To not allow for changes and new interpretations, as time passes and society and the world we live in changes, is the greatest of folly. The authors of these writings lived in a different world. They could not possibly have predicted, yet known, the world we live in. Nor, did they have the benefit of modern scholarship and learning.

The study and respectful debate of contemporary issues is healthy. Abusing the views of others and the increase in intolerance is not.

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