I am appalled by growing intolerance and diminishing civility in our society. Turning the TV off and on this past weekend to follow the health care vote, I was sickened by a racial slur that I had not heard since the early '60s. I was shocked to hear a congressman shout "baby killer" at another. On Monday Rush Limbaugh used public airways to call people he disagrees with "bastards." Last year another congressman called the president a liar during Mr. Obama's speech on health care. Some of these words used to be bleeped on TV.
I was taught to respect my elders, my neighbors, my co-workers and those different from me. These principles allowed me to experience school desegregation in the South, mature and later on agree to disagree during stressful labor situations.
Most important I learned that differences of opinions and positions did not make the people I interacted with inferior or less worthy -- they made all of us stronger. I learned a lot by listening and trying to understand different points of view. Some of those views I've even embraced.
Where is this intolerance leading? Shunning, white robes and burning crosses or, worse yet, violence? Some of our elected officials have forgotten that intolerance eventually leads to violence. John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King were both victims of this man-made sickness.
Elected officials should lead and bring us closer; they should never polarize us and take us back in time.