Sometimes when I’m watching a political program such as the Presidential debates or the morning talk shows, I wonder what young people are thinking regarding the tolerance level of our national leaders. It’s not just the big issues like building a wall or banning certain groups from coming to our country. It goes deeper than that. It is a constant pointing out of differences. it may be religion (for example, the “Bernie Sanders is Jewish” email exchange that created issues for the DNC), race, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, age, disability, or social class. In order to appear inclusive, the modus operandi for the conventions was to try to have “one of each” speak. Perhaps the organizers didn’t realize that tokenism is also an “ism.”
Historically, we have watched our country struggle with religious freedoms, civil rights, and women’s rights. We have witnessed what we call “movements” in an effort to bring about equality. Yet, respect for our differences seems to elude us.
Perhaps our leaders should spend more time around millennials and young people. As a group, millennials have been described as the most tolerant generation ever. They don’t judge people by their skin color or their heritage. They don’t feel there should be restrictions on who you can love or who you can marry. They believe women can be in combat as well as in the corporate boardroom. They simply see diversity as the norm. As a result, diversity seems unremarkable to them.
When I hear a young person say, “that’s not our fight, or not our cause,” I wonder if they can maintain that belief and stance. Or, will they eventually get sucked into the divisiveness and perpetuation of inequality expressed by the older generations. If they can hold onto their tolerance, if they refuse to be co-opted, what a great step forward that will be for all of us.