Values in Tension

Photo by  Darinka Kievskaya     

Photo by Darinka Kievskaya 


The interesting thing about the values of civil equality, religious liberty, and inclusion, is how they often clash with each other. These are trigger words used to incite people from both red and blue states in America, or any nation with similarly divided groups of people.   

Some fear that civil equality denies a particular version of society that must be protected and fought to preserve. But, that’s when society breaks down – as demonstrated in Charlottesville, Virginia recently.  

The same goes for religious liberty. 

For that right, William Penn said, “We must give the liberties we ask.”  That means the liberty not to believe, if one so chooses. The tricky part, the revealing part of this for anyone, is not to turn the dissimilar person into an “other” – a person we tolerate, but that’s about it. This is barely civil and often justifies all sorts of abuses. Toleration is only a baby step towards love and respect.   

Imagine if a family member, in a gesture of good will, would say they tolerated their supposed loved one.  It doesn’t work. A tolerant society is an immature society, better than intolerant for sure, but far from the dignity and respect for humanity that language like “civil equality” imagines. The end must be a radical inclusive approach that neither prohibits one’s convictions or belief or demands it from another.   

Our ability to retain the humanity of others has to be the measure of us.