Kindness, Tolerance And Mutual Respect

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Every now and then intolerance rears its ugly head in newspaper ads, and I feel embarrassed for the people who write them, the churches that sponsor them, and the papers that publish them. I used to get angry and attempt to fight contempt with contempt. Not anymore. As I learn to love my neighbor as myself, I’m quicker to forgive. I’m learning to love people who act intolerantly, regardless of their faults.

Because I also love the victims of intolerance, and I want to speak up for the oppressed, I submit this open letter to everyone here in Cannon County and beyond. I write it in the plural, trusting that good people everywhere will add their hearty amen:

Dear (say your name):

You are our neighbor, and you are welcome in Cannon County.

Your skin color or nationality is not an issue here. We like you just the way you are.

Your political leanings are not a problem here. In liberty and equality, we honor your right to think for yourself.

Your sexuality is not an issue here. We accept you and your family. We consider you our friends.

You may take the Bible literally or metaphorically or not at all. That’s Okay here. In kindness, tolerance and mutual respect, we’d like to hear what you have to say.

We’re not perfect here in Cannon County. In fact, we’re all too human. We’re at different stages of progress, constantly learning to live more virtuously and love more perfectly. If someone here slips and says something unloving, that person needs all the forgiveness and compassion you can give. We need your good example and your kind words to remind us of our highest calling: to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Yes, friend, we need you. We accept you. We love you. We invite you to join with us in our efforts to become better neighbors. Just the way you are, friend, you are our neighbor, and you are welcome in Cannon County.

Kyle Williams
215 W. High St.
Woodbury, TN 37190
(615) 464-7558
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February 03, 2010 at 8:42pm
I don't know exactly what newspaper ads you are referring to but I would like to make a few statements regarding what you wrote. I try very hard not to be judgemental and I believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion and their right to voice that opinion. Saying that, I want to state that it is my right to believe that I don't HAVE to be tolerant of something that I perceive to be immoral or illegal. I don't hate anyone, but I don't have to like everyone either and especially when I disagree with a person's, lifestyle, culture or beliefs. While I may have to interact with a person in a public place, that does not mean I have to invite that person into my home, my neighborhood, or my social activities.

It is my opinion that one thing that is wrong with our society today and why our culture is falling apart is the "liberal/just anything is alright" mentally that is being taught to our kids and forced upon our citizens. Things will only go further and get progressively worse if we as individuals and collectively as citizens don't take a stand and say enough is enough. There is a place for tolerance of individual diversity, but only as long as that diversity does not countermand the laws, principles and morals that this country was founded on. People should be grateful to live in the great country of the USA and be willing to live by the majority rules laws that are voted in by the citizens and quit trying to change this country into something that one day no one will want.
February 04, 2010 at 6:15am
Kane you are correct.
February 04, 2010 at 6:48am
One must be very careful when they began to tout the laws, principles and morals that prevailed in this nation when it was founded.
The founding fathers created a most oppression sociey. One that comdemned the Negro to slavery, one that denied women any voice at all, one that took away from the Indian any vestiges of his heritage, one that denied voting priviledges to all but a select few.
Oppression of a minority classes by the majority--just because they are the majority--is not what this nation is all about.
Well said, Kyle!
February 04, 2010 at 11:30am
After reading the Courier and discovering the newspaper ad that I believe precipated Kyle's letter I have to say that I doubt that the church or it's members that are responsible for this ad really need or want you, Kyle, to be embarassed for them. They have NOTHING to be embarassed about. If Christians read and believe the Bible, it is very clear that GOD and Jesus are not tolerant of immoral sin that is constantly attacking the core values and principles of the Christian religion. In this country we still have a right (at least for the present) to express our opinions and our religious beliefs be it face to face or in a newspaper. I believe in the equality of all races for education, jobs, life, liberty and the persuit of happiness, however, I do not believe that equating a lifestyle choice that a person makes with the race factor is equality or that it is constitutional. GOD does not tolerate or accept homosexuality and as for me and my house - neither do we!!
February 04, 2010 at 2:11pm
It has not been too long ago that ministers of the same religious group preached that the only folks headed for heaven were those who were in this church.
Nowadays they seem to have moderated their sermons somewhat, hoping not to antagonize too many, and most will not say from the pulpit that Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans and the like are going to hell and the only saved will be those who believe exactly like they do.
All this has been triggered by the lawsuit in California--nothing stirs up the right wing conservatives more than abortion and the sexual preferences of some.
February 04, 2010 at 3:43pm
Kane has it right and he said in a way that is not meant to offend but to enlighten.
February 04, 2010 at 7:04pm
I like this letter, Kyle, very much! That's all I want to say. Thank you for taking the time to write it.
February 05, 2010 at 11:08am
Hello, Kane. Of course you have a right to express your opinion. Would you be so kind as to answer three questions: (1) How can the marriage of your neighbor constitute an "attack" on anyone or anything? (2) If same-sex marriage disgusts you, the solution is simple: don’t marry someone of your own sex. Doesn’t it become tyrannical, though, to forbid others to marry whom they choose? (3) Aren’t tolerance and neighborly love “the core values and principles of the Christian religion”?
February 05, 2010 at 2:17pm
Kyle, I think you are missing the point that many of us who believe same sex marriage is wrong are trying to make. We do not care what you do in your own bedroom, we just don't agree with it or wish it to be presented to our children as a valid life style. I don't see anyone persecuting you for your beliefs or being tyrannical towards you because of those same beliefs. You are also being very simplistic when you speak of the core values of the Christian religion. I think you are smart enough that if you read the Bible in its fullness and not take passages out of context you will see that there are many distinctions between right and wrong and homosexuality definitely falls in the wrong category. Which is why, once more, that being tolerant does not mean to accept.
February 05, 2010 at 4:02pm
Hello, Bullpen. I agree that what happens in the privacy of other people’s homes is not our business. Marriage, however, is a very public social status with legal benefits. Isn’t it cruel to deprive some couples of the right to marry? Isn’t it contrary to the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection of the laws”? Isn’t it possible to accept the legal validity of a marriage, even if you deny its ecclesiastical validity? I understand that people interpret the Bible in different ways. I’m sure I interpret it more liberally than you do. That’s Okay. I won’t argue with your conviction that homosexuality is wrong. The way I read the Bible, though, parts of the Mosaic law are contrary to the gospel. I believe “Love your neighbor” trumps pharisaical intolerance.
February 10, 2010 at 7:27pm
Here is my view.Kyle I thank U for the letter. It was nice. One thing we must all think about. None of us have a heaven or hell to put anyone in. People know when they are doing something wrong or right.You can't fool whats in the heart.It really is a heart thing. You can't fool God who sees what's really in the heart. Everytime you do something you know if its right or wrong. God will judge people. Our job is to love people. When the time come and it will, then everyone will give an account for what they have said or done. I think the letter was right on time for me. I know I was dealing with a situation that happened to me, and for me it came at a good time. As far as as what I have read in the comments. I'm not sure what everyone is referring to. But for me when its all said and done its about love for one another. Judging, well I will leave all that to God who will judge us all. My job is to love you.Its so easy to say to someone they are going to hell. Most people already know that. We should love people and through that love and lifestyle of living right they will see God in our life, then they will change if that is their choice. Know this, everyone does not want God and we should not shove God down any ones throat. I think what Kyle was trying to say is to allow people to be who they are, but inspite of what they do, we still have to love them and pray for them and know they will give an account for how they have treat people and what was in their heart. What I have found during my lifetime is manhy people say they are christians but their lifestyle says something totally different. I don't argue scripture I just live the life. If we love and except people by living what we preach then people will change the way they do things and start doing what is right, Kyle you are right on with what you wrote. I appreciate you for it.It helped me.
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