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Cultivating Tolerance

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Addition 17 June 2003
Professional basketball.  Yes.
Perhaps those of you who follow sports watched the NBA Championships.  It was oddly amusing to watch the games because Tony Parker, the little San Antonio guy, just blew apart Jason Kidd, the New Jersey Nets' superstar.  Cool.  Parker tore up. 
Why do I like the irony of this?  What irony?
Tony Parker - that little twenty-two-year-old black guy - was born in Belgium, grew up in Paris and still lives in a fancy Paris flat with his tall, blonde ex-model French wife and their two kids.  Hes a Parisian - a damned French citizen! 
The NBA does say much about it.  But I see Parker on TF1 and France 2 in these interviews saying clever things in flawless French and having a fine old time. 
I suppose the NBA is quiet to protect him.  If some of the more forceful Texas folks found out about his real home, his white wife, his language skills well, they'd tie him to the rear bumper of a pick-up and drag him to his death. 
They do that sort of thing down in Texas, as I recall.  And this would now be quite patriotic, of course. 
Well, the truck thing only happened once.  And that was long before the French disagreed with us in public.  And it was an anomoly - two not so typical Texans.
One suspects most Texas basketball fans are happy the Spurs won it all and will forgive Tony from being so damned French.
Quick Hit 6 - Cultivating Tolerance
Yes, those of us in college way back in the sixties did come to buy into the idea that tolerance was something to be cultivated, that respect for other points of view was a good thing.  Quite unfashionable these days.  The idea now is that, yes, these are minor virtues, but not central virtues.  The thing is now one must have unshakable core values that do not ever change - like a sense of what is good and evil, right and wrong.  Compromising these leads to the shadowy world of inaction - one becomes awfully French, don't you know?  In that "relative" world nothing is moral or immoral.  We enter the dim twilight of meaninglessness -- le Crépuscule.  Or the Götterdämmerung?  That sort of thing.
So.  Compromise and tolerance are fine but for when core values are involved.  Okay, so how do you work between the poles of being reasonably tolerant and, at the same time, having unshakeable values, between having solid values but then again not being so rigid you close yourself off from listening to others -- and from cooperating in a community with all these folks from other cultures who have other experiences?  Damn, in just my apartment building here different folks speak Spanish, Tagalong and Yiddish.  And talk about odd points of view!  My next door neighbor keeps hoping he'll get a shot on American Idol.  Core values?  Oh my.  And a practical question -- do you admire someone who holds "black folk and women folk should never have been given the vote" because he has a set of solid core values, or do you suggest this fellow -  and there are a few - should reconsider his particular core values and be a little more tolerant?  Is it right to ask people to examine their core values, because you say so?  Is a puzzlement.
Try to understand the other guy?   I know some really hard-line conservatives and, on the other side, some really left wing folks.  Each side simply feels that good and evil are quite real and pretty damned obvious, and it is just plain wrong to pretend otherwise.  Pretending otherwise is, to them, dishonest.  It's not reporting the truth.  Well, they are what they are, each side.  Scared and defensive.
We live in an age where folks have finally come up against what compromise and tolerance really mean.  And they don't like where they lead.  And some of us still think they lead to good places.  But we happy few may have to move to France.
30 May 2003