We live in a society of intolerance where we despise one another on the basis of personal, political and religious differences. We are in the era of the nosy neighbor. To put it frankly, one's business has become everybody's business. A great intolerance has emerged in our society. One that has been cultivated by a growing sense of entitlement and self-righteousness. A false belief that our own values and ideals are somehow superior to those of the rest of the world and as such everyone must conform to them or otherwise be damned.
Shame on us. We have become a society of entitled bigots. We scowl on those who mock our ways, preaching hypocritical words of 'tolerance" and "respect", yet we are quick to mock others who differ from us. The cowardly internalization of everyone else's personal choices and beliefs must stop. Someone making a choice to cover one's body is not an attack against you or your freedom. Someone's choice of faith does not affect your choice of faith. We are all free to decide how to live our lives, and make choices based on our values and no one has a right to claim offense over another's personal choices.
It is a complete and utter outrage that seeing someone live their lives and make choices in a way that does not align with our personal values causes us anger. We are each individually responsible for our own choices and don't have any right to shove our ideals down other peoples throats. Many do not share this view. As a result religious persecution continues to be rampant in our communities.
Earlier in January, Dr. Larcia Hawkins was facing termination from Wheaton College as a result of her decision to voice her solidarity with the Muslim community on social media. What was her crime you ask? Stating publicly that Muslims and Christians have the same God.
In 2011, France banned the full-face Islamic veil in public places. Earlier in 2004 they banned the headscarf from public schools and are now currently debating banning the headscarf from universities as well. Many other European Countries have followed suit in their example. They are essentially putting Muslim women under house arrest, and denying them their rights to education and financial opportunity. These are only a couple of mild examples of religious persecution being faced today.
It is shameful that we live in a world where marriage, modesty in dress and the practice of religion are policed by the government. It is shameful that we are so afraid of difference that we go to incredible extents as a community to persecute those who are different from us. This is something most faith communities are guilty of. There is a fundamental flaw in Christians demanding non-Christians to conform to the laws of Christianity, as there is a fundamental flaw in Muslims expecting the same of non-Muslims.
We are each individually responsible for our own personal choices. At the end of the day we will be held accountable for what we choose to do, not what others choose to do. There are no concrete definitions of right or wrong. We must abolish this sense of entitlement that falsely leads us to believe that we are somehow these self-righteous heroes that are here to rescue everyone else from their own personal ignorance. We must uplift and befriend each other and accept one another because if we all decided one day to only befriend those who conform to our political, religious and personal ideals we would find ourselves alone in a miserable and hateful reality.
In the words of the American evangelical Christian pastor and author Rick Warren,
Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.