Events remind us that respect is key to tolerance

As we palled around, I discovered we had many differences and oddly enough he was an atheist going to a Catholic school. On occasion, the kid would eat dog or cat food. Gainesburgers had recently been introduced and I recall he considered them a delicacy. Despite his encouragement, there was no way I was putting that stuff to my lips. We would talk about religious beliefs, and while we never swayed each other, it never seemed to matter to either of us. I later learned more about the difficult life and poverty his family experienced.

As we fast forward to 2011, I can't help but wonder why we can't accept the differences among us and be more tolerant of each other. As a young child, I was able to accept people for who they were with no strings attached. But more and more these days people seem to be confusing freedoms with an entitlement to control. We hear stuff like, "I'm entitled to have whatever I want and anyone who stands in the way of my choices will just have to change their ways because this is MY America and anything that I find opposed to MY Way of Life must be wrong!"

The Bill of Rights guarantees us certain freedoms, among them the right to assemble, to speak freely, to respect the establishment and practice of religion, to be secure in our homes and to not unduly deny the rights of others. But these laws designed to protect the freedoms of all are being used by a few who find some actions or activities offensive to their beliefs.

In Essex County government, some find a short prayer before the session offensive. In Tupper Lake, despite strong community support, we see environmental groups blocking needed economic development proposed by the Adirondack Club. Last year, we saw some of the same groups behind blocking the development on the Lewis Family Farm in Essex.

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