I am a tolerant person...
I will tolerate your religious views (you don't really believe that stuff, do you? Really?), but you make it difficult when you try to use them as the basis for logical argument about political issues that affect my life. I also would prefer it if you actually displayed some of the qualities espoused by your creed. The first place to apply your religious tenets is your own life, get that right before you even start to think about getting the rest of us involved.
I will tolerate your confused and mistaken speech, after all, I have made a thousand mistakes for every enlightened realization I have ever earned. Please remember though, just because you can say something doesn't make it equal in validity or usefulness to anything else that can be said. Stupidity is still stupidity, and ignorance, while blissful, is still ignorance. One person's opinion is not just as good as another's. Some people are well informed, experienced, and rational about what they think they know and don't know. Some people start off with a head full of nonsense (well, most of us do!), stay that way, and spend their whole life trying to force interpretations of what they experience to fit their preconceptions.
I will tolerate your insistence on wandering about in the woods near houses with firearms, although one little accident and my tolerance will be rather moot... I will ask you to explain again how that dog (or that woman for crying out loud!) could look exactly like a deer. I've seen deer, a lot of them (they come to eat my shrubs and talk to my cat...). They are reasonably unique looking animals. I understand! You are not part of the problem! You are responsible! OK. So how about some serious penalties not just for gun usage during intentionally "criminal" activities, but also for the absolute morons who shoot things that don't belong to them and are not legitimate targets?
I will tolerate your private worship of fantastical religious icons and entities, so long as you keep them to yourself and do not persist in trying to force them into everyone else's lives via the schools and the government. How can you tell when you are doing this? Here's a rule of thumb. Any time you find that the only (and strongest?) argument you can come up with for a political issue is "morality" (using words like immoral, "righteous," moral, godly, christian, "evil,"... etc.), or a rule or quote from your holy books, you do not have a good argument.
Please do not ignore the separation of church and state, also known as freedom of conscience, which not only protects our shared, secular government, of laws not men, from religious tyrants, but protects and honors your natural freedom to believe and practice whatever religious or spiritual traditions you desire.
Remember, when you are feeling secure in your sense of being a majority veiwpoint, and feeling strong in your battle against the infidel, the atheist, and the heretic, that at one time or another pretty much all the world's religious orders have been persecuted by an equally smug majority. Please do not repeat this crime.
I will not insist that teachers tell your kids that gods are imaginary human inventions, if you don't try to legislate their being forced to tell other people's kids that your god and morality is the only one.
I will tolerate your basing of your political views on slogans that make you feel smart, on assumptions you have not questioned or do not understand, but please understand this: if you cannot clearly trace the lines of logic from your basic assumptions to your current positions, especially if you do not realize there should be some structure to your views, tolerance will not grow into respect, and will not prevent laughter or tears at times.
I will tolerate almost anything as long as it doesn't prevent me from doing whatever harmless activities I was engaged in all along.
11/30/99 with dubious additions 12/19/02
© Huw Powell