Searching for tolerance in an intolerant world

At the invitation of a local newspaper editor Bill Schroer began writing a column in 2013 which addressed nudism and naturism. These columns reflect Bill’s view of naturism and it is hoped by reprinting the columns and then sharing his original blog posts, viewers will see the link between Bill’s philosophy of living as a nudist/naturist and the resulting world of Nuance Naturist B&B. In effect, Nuance Naturist B&B is an outcome of Bill’s years of thinking and dedication to the naturist ideal.

As we survey the wreckage of the recent political (largely negative) combat with the concomitant spectacle of contestants trashing each other, one wonders “Where is the tolerance?” As Scott McNeely, former head of Sun Microsystems famously said when asked about Internet privacy, “There isn’t any … get over it.” But what is it, exactly that we are getting over? Tolerance is viewed with deep suspicion by many Americans. People who are tolerant are often seen as unprincipled or weak, not having a staked out position … flip-floppers. Even

worse, to tolerate is to “suffer or endure” as noted in the 4th usage of the word in But wait: What are the first three usages for the term? Let’s look at #1: “A fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.” The second definition is similar and the third is even more proactive: “interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.” It seems we have an epidemic of intolerance in this country, and maybe in this county. The

disease is spreading as both right and left-wing ideologues paint the portrait of the other side as an “enemy of the state” or worse. The Rush Limbaughs of the world are teaching us to be intolerant of any view but the one we subscribe to or are leaning toward … the correct view. The political system is no longer working because instead of two sides disagreeing and debating issues on the merits— and being willing to accept when the other guy/gal has an idea that can help the country (or county) — today, politics is seen as war. By that it is meant “there is an absolutist view of politics where any success for the other

It seems we have an epidemic of intolerance in this country, and maybe in this county.

side is seen as a devastating loss for your side,” according to David Moss, Mclean professor of business administration and founder of the Tobin Project. One must annihilate the other side. No quarter asked nor given. The result is paralysis. A recent poll by Harvard magazine of its alumni asked what was the single biggest obstacle to the recovery of the American economy. The overwhelming answer was the “political system” that is offering nothing except gridlock and obfuscation. Standard and Poors agreed

when they downgraded the U.S. credit rating, noting the problem wasn’t the ability to repay. It was whether the political system is “reliable enough to ensure continued repayment.” But the practice of intolerance isn’t limited to politics. The list is regrettably long. We don’t tolerate: » People of color » Fat people » The disabled » Illegal immigrants, legal immigrants (barely) — except for Canadians » Bi/gay/transgendered people » Seniors (unless you are one) » More. I propose we have a discourse about tolerance. Not

the “suffering or enduring” kind, the good kind. The kind where we have “an interest in, and are concerned for ideas, opinions and practices foreign to our own.” I suggest we discuss in this column the elements of tolerance — or intolerance, if that’s easier. The goal? To reframe the social contract that talks about how we deal with each other, and,more than understand each other, actively engage in the work to understand our ideas, opinions, etc. What do I know about intolerance, an older white guy who grew

What do I know about intolerance, an older white guy who grew up in (lower middle class) white systemic privilege? Well, I’m a naturist.

up in (lower middle class) white systemic privilege? Well, I’m a naturist. A naturist, for those of you who may not have heard of Sunshine Gardens or Turtle Lake Resort, is someone who may also be known as a nudist. “Naturism is a way of life in harmony with nature characterized by healthy eating, exercise, fresh air, sunshine and living nude in contact with the elements … respecting oneself and others and seeking to become one with the universe.” Do I ever encounter intolerance? You betcha.

Misunderstanding? Yep. People willing to think the worst of you without knowing anything about you or naturism? Absolutely. People who are angry that you even have the right to do what you do? Sure. People who think naturism is a cover for illicit sexual activity? Oh, yeah. Does this sound like others in our society who are oppressed or targeted for prejudicial treatment? I think so. While I don’t pretend to have suffered from intolerance my entire life (I haven’t always been a naturist) this, in a way, may qualify me to write this column. I never knew

what it was like to be the target of intolerance or prejudice or hate. So when it happened, it was quite a shock. Scary. For the blacks and Hispanics and gays and transgender people — who have lived their lives “tolerating” this kind of treatment — it must suck. I’ve seen both sides and, believe me, not being a victim of intolerance is a lot better.