Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Tyranny of the Minority

Today marks the one year anniversary of Duang's immigration to America and my return to my home to care for my parents.

After being back in the USA after spending 9-1/2 of the past 11 years abroad, it has been very interesting to observe life here up close and personal once again.  It is even more interesting to observe Duang experiencing life here.

Change is a constant force in the Universe.  However, we are often oblivious to the change around us in that it frequently evolves slowly and we become acclimatized to the changes without recognizing the changes.

Duang has been amazed at the television commercials for pet food let alone "gourmet" flavored foods for dogs and cats.  Back in Isaan, villagers have dogs but the dogs fend for themselves and eat table scraps.  I am convinced that the dogs in America that are served pet food, not necessarily the "gourmet" variety end up with a more nutritious diet and more balanced diet than the Lao Loum farmers of Isaan.  She was astounded seeing television commercials for pet medicines.

I have been amazed at the number of television commercials offering legal services for "victims" of God knows what medicine they may have taken in the past.  Of course advertisements for Viagra and Cialis always bring a smile to our face since such advertisement is not on Thai or Lao television.  I am still trying to figure out how and why the man and woman end up in separate bathtubs after he supposedly takes Cialis for ED.

A development of our current society that has astonished me has been what I will describe as the tyranny of the minority in the United States.  Having lived in several countries, I have had experience of being a minority many times in my life.  I have commented many times that living in a foreign country gives you a great appreciation for tolerance.  I have lived in two Muslim countries, a Roman Catholic country twice, an atheist country, a Buddhist country, and a secular country.  I felt no obligation to try to change their beliefs or culture.

In all the countries I found people worshipping or not worshipping as they chose.  In Algeria you could go to a Christian service,  In Thailand, you can worship at a Mosque and be a practicing Muslim.  In Vietnam, I attended services at a Buddhist temple and knew of Christian services being held.  I am not advocating any religion over the other, but I only wish to point out that in the countries where I lived, the minority was free to practice and live as their faith or lack of faith dictated.  The majority respected the needs of the minority.  The minorities in those countries did not advocate or agitate for the dilution of the majority.  Tolerance was a thread that kept the fabric of society intact.

In the United States today there is a great sensitivity towards the need of the minority.  There are a plethora of lawyers and organizations all too willing to point out and "defend" the rights, sensitivities and needs of any given minority.  However upon my return here I have observed that the minority do not always reciprocate with sensitivity, consideration, and acceptance of the wishes and needs of the majority.  It seems more and more common that the majority is held hostage to peculiarities of the minority even if it be a single person.

As a child I was brought up to respect the will of the majority.  When I felt that I was suffering from the outrageous slings and arrows of childhood, I would complain perhaps even whine to my mother.  She always would admonish me to get along with others and ask "Who do you think that are?  Someone special?"  She did not want me to fore go my beliefs, opinions, or rights but in grained in me the principle that the rights of the minority need to be protected but that the minority had an obligation to get along with the majority.  Fighting to have things the way that I preferred, wanted, or was more "comfortable" was not a behavior that she supported.  It was an America of majority rule.

Today it seems to me that the arrogance of "I", the individual, has taken over our society, our dysfunctional society.  The arrogance of "I", prevents our politicians from compromising and doing what is best for our country and future generations of our citizens.  There is much less tolerance today in our America ... from the minority for the majority.  The result is an inability to govern effectively, if at all.

An example involves a court decision in Rhode Island related to prayer in a public high school. In  Cranston High School West there is a mural that has been in the school for almost fifty years as a gift from a graduating class in 1963.  The mural is a prayer that was written by a student.  A current student, who is an Atheist, petitioned the Court to have the banner removed because as an Atheist she "felt excluded and ostracized".  A Judge has ordered the prayer to be removed.  The city has covered the mural with a tarp while it considers a possible appeal.

The Judge's ruling has created a great deal of controversy in the city, Rhode Island, and on the Internet.  I wrote a comment on Facebook related to the case and briefly described my feelings on the situation.  The gist of my belief is "Hey people, tolerance is a two way street"  I indicated that I would be writing a blog regarding the situation and some one commented along the line of "Great, a crusade".  No, I am not on a religious crusade.  I am more on a quest for tolerance.

In regards to the Atheist:  No one is accused of forcing her to look at it.  No one is accused of making her read or recite the prayer.  No one is accused of forcing or even trying to force her to belief the prayer.  No one is accused of attempting to convince her to like the mural.  She as an individual felt "excluded and ostracized".  I am sorry but to me that sounds more like a personal problem than an issue for the high school, city, or Court to solve.  To me this is once again an example of the arrogance of "I" the lack of tolerance by the minority for the needs, sensitivities, and wishes of the majority.  This is a demonstration of a lack of respect by a minority for the majority.

It is the lack of tolerance in so many aspects of our daily life today in America that creates a lack of respect and prevents people from moving on and creating compromises.  It is the subjugation of the common good for the sensitivities of the few.  It is the suppression of majority rule.

This case has not been resolved and it will go on for much longer.  Most recent developments are the student has now received almost $40,000 in donations for her college expenses, the ACLU has requested $173,000 in legal fees from the City related to the case, and the mural has been covered up.

I repeat my statement "Tolerance is a two way street".

I see that America has changed, in my opinion a change that has not been for the good.

My wish is that abuse by the majority and tyranny of the minority will be eliminated from our society.

I suspect that they will be shortly after there is peace in the Middle East, and world hunger is eliminated.

If I have offended anyone with this blog, please do not be mean to me because I suspect that I will then feel "excluded and ostracized".  If that were to occur, I will provide my address so that I can receive donations for my heroic stand from those who share my sentiments.

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