Respect and tolerance, two qualities, two characteristics that have been put on hold or just simply forgotten.
Respect is explained as the regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.
Tolerance is described as the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular, the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.
At some point in our past, recent or long ago – or a combination of both – WE have lost respect and tolerance for one another, our community, our state and our nation.
We are a nation built on the belief as outlined in the preamble of the United States Constitution that says “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare…” It cannot be overlooked, that many in our Union feel that these goals and objectives, the expressions of our founding fathers, have not been realized. And out of respect and tolerance, all voices should be heard. And out of respect and tolerance, we have an obligation to all to be heard. And out of respect and tolerance for each other – all people – all Americans, we should work together to live up to the preamble of our Constitution and its expression to form a “more perfect Union.”
Forming a “more perfect Union” is aspirational. Forming a “more perfect Union” is the goal – it is the ideal we should always strive to achieve. But we must be realistic, the term “perfect” will never be realized. For it is this word “perfect” that by design, and I would have to believe the founders of our great nation, skillfully and carefully selected to keep us ever striving for that which is noblest and best. Let us be clear, we will never achieve perfection – I don’t believe that our founding fathers ever expected us to reach perfection, but they did demand that we continue to ever seek its luster.
We often describe ourselves the “melting pot” of the world. That too comes with its own responsibilities – rooted in the objectives outlined in the Constitution – “to form a more perfect Union”. When our nation began its expansion centuries ago WE put out the call to the world as best articulated in the motto of the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” What is that golden door – what is inside? Fundamentally, it can best be summarized into one word “opportunity.” And somewhere along the way, “opportunity” is not believed to be an achievable goal for some. We have forgotten, either selectively or by design, that we are a nation built by people of different temperaments, talents and convictions – all of which needs to be supported by respect and tolerance.
We have forgotten, that the first amendment of OUR Constitution demands that we show respect and tolerance – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble …”
One of the most important elements of the first amendment clearly states, “or abridging the freedom of speech”. So what does this mean? To me, it means that one has the right to share their opinions and thoughts without fear of reprisal. To me, it means that each persons speech is important and it should be heard. To me, it means that although I may or may not agree with your speech – that it should be heard. To me, it also means that the use of speech should be respected and tolerated.
As a young boy growing up in New Jersey, my grandmother instilled in me the qualities of respect, tolerance and belief that all people are created equally and should be treated fairly. I have embodied this concept in my daily interaction with others. I believe in leading by example – striving to be respectful and tolerant to all.
So where do we go from here? Now is the time to unite. The big question is how do we get there? For this purpose, I would ask all of us to take a day, 24 hours, – “A Day of Respect and Tolerance” to contemplate how we can all unite as one, striving for the “perfect union” realizing we will not get there divided – but wherever we land together, striving for what is noblest and best because tomorrow must be better than where we are today.
– State Representative Dave Greenspan, 16th Ohio House District