Earlier this week, John Kass, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, worte about a student in the 8th grade in Oak Park, IL, a town I lived in for a few years in the late 1990's. This student, in order to test the open-mindedness of her school, alternated between wearing a "McCain" t-shirt and an "Obama" t-shirt at school. What she found, and the treatment she received, is somewhat disturbing. You can see the original column here:
There is a follow-up column with reader comments here:
When I lived in Oak Park, there was a lively discussion about offering same gender benefits. This was on the ballot, and was a pretty hot issue. Oak Park is considered a very liberal town, but I found that actually there was a fair amount of resistance to same gender rights. Now, with the Kass article, it seems pretty clear that even though Oak Park is somewhat liberal, it is not necessarily open-minded.
All of this rang so true to me. I recently attended the Friends General Conference Central Committee's annual gathering. While there was variance on the role of God and Jesus in the faith, there was unanimity on Obama. While I am an Obama supporter, I was looking for a way to get a McCain pin to wear just to see how much we Friends can walk our walk that "there is that of God in all people".
The lesson for me in all of this is we have to be careful not to have our politics be our faith. It leads to a hypocricy, and can clearly lead us to a place where being liberal does not mean being open-minded. In fact, my experience over the past 10 years of working with conservatives and liberals is that liberals can be more challenging. The reason is not that I do not agree with liberals, because the fact is that I do for the most part. Liberals are more challenging because of the self-proclaimed "open-minded" that really seems to be only as long as others agree with them.