For the majority of my life, I went to school in the south.
Some of my best memories were formed in places like Goldsboro, North Carolina and Prattville, Alabama. But, as I got a little older, I started to take notice of things that had previously went over my head.
Some of my friends parents would make remarks on how all these nice, decent people were going to hell; I’d hear people talk down on people who didn’t claim a religion; I’d hear classmates slut shaming girls for having pre-marital sex.
Because of all of these negative, judgmental views towards so many aspects of life, I came to resent a lot of southern culture. I thought a good majority of the south were intolerant assholes. I couldn’t wait to get to college and be surround by more like-minded people who were pro-choice and didn’t give a shit who wanted to marry who or if you believed in Jesus. I felt different than a lot of my peers (with the exception of my friends) and looked forward to being around a more tolerant, understanding crowd.
Then I got to college. It was exciting. People openly admitted their skepticism of religion, advocacy for women’s right to choose, and the diversity was comforting. I felt like I was finally surrounded by like-minded people for the first time. But the more I got to talking to a lot of people, the more I realized I was drawing a lot of connections between my past in the boonies and my present in an intellectual environment; there was still intolerance.
The new crowd had ideas that were philosophically correct, but had ideas of implementation that were alarming. Anyone who had differing opinions, in any light, were immediately written off as “stupid” and were brushed under the rug. While preaching tolerance there was always the underlying irony of being intolerant to anyone with different view points; it was a cacophony of moral superiority.
Something important to note is that not everyone from the south is an idiot and not everyone that goes to college is a pseudo-intellectual. That’s a given, but I felt I needed to clarify.
If you are too extreme in your views, it makes me wonder if you actually care about your cause or if you just care about having a cause. People have opinions on the way they think things should be. They share them with the hope that they can convince others to agree with them, thus making the world (in their opinion) a better place.
From my experiences I’ve come to realize this isn’t usually the case. People are either tolerant people or they are intolerant; whether you are a die-hard, southern republican or a flaming, northern liberal. If you find yourself being intolerant of others, no matter how “nobel” your cause is or how “devout” of a christian you are, take a long look in the mirror and say this to yourself: PEOPLE ARE JUST PEOPLE. Everyone is trying to figure out life. When people find something they think is undoubtedly right or wrong, they’ll argue for it, because that is their reality and it’s scary to have your fundamental values questioned.
I wonder if the guy who shames someone for not believing the bible actually cares about the soul they claim is going to hell, or if the girl who posts the long, ranting facebook statuses about equality thinks it should apply to the “dumb rednecks.”
When you go so extreme to either side of the spectrum, you hurt your “cause.” As the great Charles Darwin said, “It is always advisable to perceive clearly our ignorance.”