Handicapped Space


“Handicapped Space” © R.L. Herron

I have been blessed with a good life, reasonable health, dear friends, great children and grandchildren, a wonderful family and a beautiful wife. I also live in a community that does a lot to assist the less fortunate souls in our society.

My good fortune also extends to my country which, from its inception, guaranteed all of us so many liberties, such as the redress of grievances, freedom of speech and the freedom to worship (or not) as each individual chooses.

It dismays me to realize a significant percentage of people in America fail to acknowledge the biggest handicap we face to our human existence: intolerance.

Intolerance comes in many forms, and I am not naive enough to think it has not existed throughout the history of our country, despite our Constitutional freedoms. Native Americans have felt it, as have blacks and Jews. Many still endure it every day.

Recently it was prominently evident again in the firebombing of a mosque in Tennessee, and in the ranting of a deluded, fundamentalist preacher in northern Florida, who garnered international headlines by his announced intention to burn copies of the Koran, a book Muslims consider holy.

Sadly, he and his supporters feel justified in this act of humiliation.

But why? There is nothing inherently evil in being a Muslim, any more than there is in being a Baptist, Catholic, Jew or Hindu. All are peaceful, well intentioned creeds that seek harmony and accord, and promote patience and charity.

It is the radical, self-aggrandizing element of every creed that drives and, indeed, seems to thrive on instilling such fear and hatred of differing ideas.

But when we let unsubstantiated fears and irrational bigotry overflow into a general climate of intolerance, we give away the core beliefs that made the liberties of this nation the envy of the world.

I have enough faith in my fellow man to believe the majority of us will not let the zealots and radicals dominate our thoughts and actions.

When we start ignoring the inherent worth of each other as human beings and become intolerant of our differences, we handicap ourselves severely.

We also start living as a people, and a nation, unworthy of greatness.

 

6 Responses to “Handicapped Space”

  1. Peter Wallage Says:

    Ron,

    I agree entirely with what you said and the comments.

    I don’t know to what sect or sub-sect the pastor in Florida belongs, but if he calls himself Christian but he would be well advised to re-read his Bible and remember: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, sayeth the Lord”.

    He should also remeber what Jesus taught about bigotry and intolerance: “In as much as you do it unto the least of one of these my brothers you do it unto me.

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    • Ron Herron Says:

      Peter –

      I found this quote from the Koran:

      “…it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask; and for the freeing of captives; to be steadfast in prayers, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which you made; and to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity….” (2:177)

      Sounds like Muslims, Christians and Jews actually have a lot in common, in terms of what SHOULD be our interaction with our fellow human beings.

      Thanks for the comment.

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  2. Susan Light Says:

    Good posts. Yes, we all could use a bit more tolerance and patience.

    We also need to teach our kids, by becoming examples ourselves.

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    • Ron Herron Says:

      You’re right, Sue. My sons are grown, and I like to think they received a good example from me. Now, I need to work on my grandkids.

      Good observation.

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  3. Ron Herron Says:

    I agree, John. Most people ARE tolerant…and irate reactions are not limited to the Muslim community. There are equally angry Christians (and Jews) who equate disrespect to their religion as an abomination.

    And it isn’t limited to just religion.

    Fear DOES beget fear, and that is the danger. Unless we are able to step back and consider the feelings of others, we run the risk of escalating violence by our own knee-jerk reactions.

    Good points. Thanks for the comment.

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  4. John Parry Says:

    Most people ARE tolerant Ron. Problems arise when people feel their own beliefs and values to be under threat, when they strike out in fear and anger.

    To cite an example, a few years ago an English volunteer schoolteacher in the Sudan was under threat of being beaten (or worse), when she allowed one of her small pupils to name his teddy bear ‘Mohammed’. She hadn’t even realised she had done anything wrong, but large crowds gathered to call for the strongest punishments available.

    The issue of course was not the naming of a teddy bear, but that of showing disrespect to the Prophet.

    Now I know a lot of muslims, and they were genuinely torn over this case. On the one hand they can become incensed at the merest thought of disrespect to Mohammed, while on the other they were shocked at some of the disproportionate punishments being called for.

    I put it into perspective for a number of them by asking the simple question “What would Mohammed have done if one of his children had named a toy after their father?” Their answer was unanimous – a hug and a kiss were called for, nothing more.

    And therein lies the problem. People are perfectly capable of coming up with rational and correct solutions so long as they don’t feel threatened and frightened. Fear begets fear.

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