I made the mistake of watching Lou Dobbs the other day. He was talking about the furor over President-elect Barack Obama's choice of Rick Warren to give an Invocation on Obama's Inauguaration Day.
Dobbs said that "tolerance means disagreeing without being disagreeable". No Mr. Dobbs, that's not what tolerance means. Tolerance means accepting other people for who they are, and not discriminating against them for what they stand for or look like or who they sleep with.
Rick Warren is not a good example of tolerance. Sure, he's civil. Civility is the beginning of tolerance, but it is not its entirety. Many people have made this mistake before. When people say vicious or hateful things through a calm and polite facade, that's not tolerance...that's deliberate deception and it's a fraud perpetrated on the public.
I appreciate what Rick Warren's done for the evangelical movement in certain aspects, widening its previously narrow focus on certain trademark cultural issues to include fights against poverty, AIDS, and global climate change. I admire Warren's efforts in these areas, and if I ever saw him, I'd thank him for that. Then I'd strongly admonish him for standing against gay rights.
Rick Warren's not a saint, OK? Neither is Barack Obama. They're both human, but they both have a lot of followers who trust everything they say and think everything they do is motivated by purely altruistic reasons. That's just not the truth - because no one is motivated by purely altruistic causes. That's one of the fundamental principles of human nature -- and we as a species tend to get in trouble when we forget that about our fellow human beings. Let's forgive Obama, but let's not forget this.
Rick Warren thinks homosexuality is not natural. Maybe it's not his fault that he believes this?
I have no way of knowing that. However, that doesn't excuse inaction on our part. We know homosexuality is not a choice. We know people who happen to be homosexual deserve every right that heterosexuals have. It is our responsibility to remind President-elect Obama of this reality. It may be too late to make it right this time, but in the future we can implement this change.
I have confidence because history is on our side. I have confidence because the facts are on our side. I have confidence because the youth are on our side. However, as we saw with the drive to pass Proposition 8 in California, those who want to impede the recognition of these rights have many resources and a lot of energy.
But think about this: twenty or even ten years ago, very few people would've been said to be in favor of gay marriage. Now, it's almost a consensus about liberals. Soon, it'll be a consensus among liberals and moderates. My own grandfather who's voted Republican almost his entire life is certainly no friend to liberal causes most of the time, and as recently as five years ago expressed his furor over the possibility of legalized gay marriage, but now he is open to the possibility. I don't expect him to protest or anything, but the public is drifting towards our side of the issue, and I know we're right, and I know we're going to make this happen.
Let Rick Warren say his prayer. I'm going to say a prayer with my actions. Like Frederick Douglass said, "I prayed for twenty years, but I received no answer until I prayed with my legs".
Let's be civil. Let's not be a doormat and let those who oppose progress take advantage of our civility. Sure, I'll let Rick Warren pray for me, and then maybe he'll let me think for him.
Tolerance: being nice is good. Being nice while working to defeat your opponents is even better.