Tolerance

Bill Miles

The other day I was sitting at a table in an establishment with several conversationalists when a person walked in wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again Trump’ Cap of which he has every right to do. I defend his right to express himself and hold any political view he wants. Of course, I was wearing my Ole Miss Cap. A couple of my friends had on their Mississippi State ones. Another had on a soiled and frayed John Deere Cap which indicated to me that he had got its markings from wearing it as he frequently handled equipment bearing that name. While the aforementioned individual seated himself near our table but not a part of it, I noticed a person I assume was traveling through the area come over as if to shake hands with the person but stopping to simply enthusiastically announce his agreement with the political message. He, too, has every right to do such. But as their conversation escalated, the visitor warned his counterpart to be alert that somebody might challenge him as if to hurt him. To this the person announced he’d use his walking stick on them if they did. “Well, anybody who disagrees with your cap ought to have a walking stick used on them,” the man said and walked back to his table and sat down with a lady I surmised was his wife. My buddies and I may not agree on religion or politics or our favorite sport team but we to do honor civility. When our two major state universities engage, we often have passionate support. But I’ve never felt threatened because I went to one school and cheer for it while they do the same for theirs. No longer do I hear disparaging statements about one church’s philosophy as opposed to another as I used to when I was a youngster growing up in the rural Bible Belt. Most of us agree that ‘we ain’t doing as good as we know how’ anyway. I now claim descendants into the third generation. When the latest entries get to voting age, I have no idea what they’ll face. I hope it’s the idealistic democracy I studied about as a fifth and sixth grader at Tilden Grammar School. They won’t, however, if we adopt the adversarial role of “them versus us” as displayed in my perception of that coffee shop encounter. My fear is if we continue to swing from one ideology to another and adopt the “I win, you lose” tactic our nation will not fare well. My observation has been that the political pendulum never stays in the middle. In my lifetime it started on a leftward swing and reversed to the right. At some point it will move again. A professor I had in college said “politicians are like ships passing in the night.” They change course depending on power and vested interests. History reveals many truths. And the truth will come out. Our first president was painted as a person who “could not lie”. He admitted he cut down his father’s cherry tree. I learned that at Tilden School.

If you would like to contact Bill Miles you can email him at bill.t.miles@gmail.com

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