Monday, October 11, 2010


Purple is my favorite color, is it yours?  Maybe you prefer blue or yellow or orange.  I can understand why you might like most colors, but, I will admit, there is a particular shade of green that I'm not fond of.  If it happens to be your favorite color, we can agree to disagree and talk about something else.  I think we can still be friends even if we don't agree on which color is best, don't you?

Favorite color is a fairly superficial topic of conversation, but the point is, you're entitled to your opinion.  I don't think anyone should ridicule you or think less of you because they don't agree with your choice.  It's a matter of tolerance, something that we seem to be sorely lacking, of late.

I read something over the weekend that made me incredibly angry and incredibly sad.  According to this article, there have been four teenage suicides at an Ohio high school, all of which were directly or indirectly the result of bullying.  Each case involved different bullies, but the underlying cause was the same, intolerance.
MENTOR, Ohio (Oct. 8) -- Sladjana Vidovic's body lay in an open casket, dressed in the sparkly pink dress she had planned to wear to the prom. Days earlier, she had tied one end of a rope around her neck and the other around a bed post before jumping out her bedroom window.

The 16-year-old's last words, scribbled in English and her native Croatian, told of her daily torment at Mentor High School, where students mocked her accent, taunted her with insults like "Slutty Jana" and threw food at her.

Suzana Vidovic found her sister's body hanging over the front lawn. The family watched, she said, as the girls who had tormented Sladjana for months walked up to the casket - and laughed.

"They were laughing at the way she looked," Suzana says, crying. "Even though she died."
Unthinkable, isn't it, that someone could be so intolerant of another human being that they would torment them until they took their own life.  And laugh about it.  It's not just teenagers, either.  Take a look at this item from a local news website:
TRENTON, Mich. - Her family says 7-year-old Kathleen Edward is in the final stages of a degenerative brain disorder diagnosed as Huntington's Disease - the same disease which killed her mother, Laura, when she was only 24.

Neighbors Jennifer and Scott Petkov, who have been feuding with the family, admitted to posting grim depictions of Laura and Kathleen on Facebook. One photo depicts Laura in the arms of the grim reaper, while the other features Kathleen's face above a set of crossbones.

The couple also have a coffin hitched to a pick-up truck in front of the house, which they say is nothing more than a halloween decoration.
There are less extreme examples that are still ugly.  In the comment section following an article on the economy, I was shocked at the name calling.  The terms "Democrap" and "Republican't" were rampant.  It seems that political bashing has become a pop culture sport.  Celebrities on one side are constantly bashing the President while those on the other side are constantly bashing anyone who doesn't support him.  You may think it has nothing to do with teenagers who bully or adults who torment critically ill children, but I think it does because it breeds intolerance.

If I were trying to solve a big problem and was instructed to choose a group of people to work on the solution with me, I would intentionally chose individuals with different points of view to encourage debate.  If we all posed the same idea, we would simply talk in circles and never make any progress.  Sometimes it's good to hear something you don't agree with.  It can inspire you to stick to your guns or motivate you to embrace a new ideology.                 

Don't get me wrong, I think you should stand by your beliefs and convictions.  You should think you're right or why have an opinion in the first place?  It's the unwillingness to tolerate anyone who doesn't agree with you that upsets me.  It's one thing to be passionate about something you believe in, but it's pompous and superior to think you're always right and anyone who doesn't agree with you is always wrong.  We can't all be right all the time, but we can all be tolerant of one another.





5thsister said...

Well stated and an "Amen"!

I think it's because we have lost the sanctity and respect for human life. People are throw-aways these days: throw away babies, throw away senior citizens who have passed their prime, throw away marriages; a lack of respect for our sacred bodies with indiscriminate sex, drug abuse and other addictions, mutilations, etc...

When we don't have respect for ourselves and for life, how can we hold others in esteem.

Most excellent post my dear Su.

Matty said...

Right on the mark! Your message is very well stated.

As if the bullying wasn't enough, they have the audacity to show up and mock her in death. Absolutely unbelievable. Where are their parents?

I think that for the most part, and of course with exceptions, children are shaped by their parents. Their moral values, ethics, belief systems, compassion and sympathy, respect and tolerance, are all developed and shaped by how they are taught and the examples that were set at home.

But you are right, politics and perhaps religion, are the two issues where intolerance is rampant.

lisleman said...

Very good post and message.
I like most shades of green better than purple but I'm very sure you will let state that here on your blog.
Maybe it's the engineering background but I think people are not that different than in the past. Today we have these social amplifiers and feedback paths that never existed before and are much more wide spread.
Maybe it's not the best example but learning about the Salem witch trials was an eye opener. The hangings of African Americans is also disturbing evidence of mob action of the past.

One on one without outside influence most everyone would get along.

Raoulysgirl said...

Awesome post! I seem to be dealing with this (intolerance)so much lately that I am absolutely to the point that I could just scream. You would think that people would understand the concept of "love" enough that this would no longer be an issue.

Not so. Believe me.

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

Just this morning, I saw a horrible personal attack on the facebook wall of one of my former art students, by a past classmate who has actually been out of high school for 2 years. I couldn't believe the either the cruelty or the immaturity of the message and spent some time crafting an encouraging message to the victim. I wish people understood the power of words and treated them with appropriate care.

Speaking of words..thanks for the ones you shared with me yesterday. I so appreciate the encouragement!

Betty Manousos @ CUT AND DRY said...

Loved this post, your message is very well stated.
Kids aren't born with a clear sense of who they are or what is important. Instead, their identities and values are continuously shaped by what they learn from their parents and others as they grow.
Great post!

Big hugs!

B xx

Jenny said...

I read this article in Time and it both angered and saddened me.

I've never understood why cruelness is supposed to be so 'cool'. It seems like a time proven fact and now with instant media it has escalated to the point of even more extreme ugliness.

I cannot think of anything to stop this torment.

I see it in Blogland, too. Viciousness for the sake of sheer cruelty.

It saddens me immensely.

Priscilla said...


I agree with you! I think the only way to resolve the issue is starting with ourselves, stop judging people, and we also have to teach our kids that being different is okay, and we all have a different point of view, situation, opinion, and that's what makes us humans!

Have a great day!

lisleman said...

FYI - I added this post to Mrs. 4444 Saturday Sampling list.

Everyday Kathy said...

Excellent post!! Found over on the Saturday Sampling/

Your blog is lovely. I'll be back and am following you now!

Mrs4444 said...

As a middle school teacher, I have an absolute ZERO tolerance for bullying of any kind. I don't even allow "shut up" or "duh" or ANYthing critical. My students know this AND understand why I feel strongly about it. Adults need to guide kids; that's all there is to it. Somewhere along the line, those bullies have been bullied themselves in some way. It's a shame...

Rachael said...

I just don't understand it. The negativity and cruelty can be so astounding, and it is horrifying to me. If people would only spend their time supporting causes they love and agree to disagree on the stuff they don't like. If only people could have a little bit of compassion for their fellow human beings and try to support each other. If only we could choose love instead of intolerance. That's what I'm teaching my kids.

Attila The Mom said...

Amen, Sister!

abby jenkins said...

Oh good lord, those stories just made me sick to my stomach. How can people be so cruel!? I am going to write a letter to Jennifer and Scott Petkov in Flint Michigan. SHAME!

Holly said...

What and excellent post. The bullying saddens me so...especially adults bullying a little girl.

I teach me children that we do not always have to agree with someone but they need to respect the other person right to their opinion...which is hard when so many are not tolerant.

I have my opinions but I can see or hear where other opinions come from...I have many friends and we have decided not to talk about certain subjects or we are able to discuss them and agree to disagree.

Can I post a link to this on Tickled pink this week.

Liz in Virginia said...

This is such a great post . . . .