The road to universal tolerance is hard | Letter

I agree with Senator Kevin Ranker’s frustration resulting from inaction by the Washington State Legislature to pass an anti-discrimination statute.

A recent column in the Seattle Times spoke to the societal intolerance within our country. As this issue has unfolded during the past two weeks following legislative action in Indiana and Arkansas, I have been distressed that none of the political pundits, including my favorites on “Morning Joe,” has pointed out that this country fought among ourselves 150 years ago at the cost of 600,000 lives to protest the second-class status of an entire ethnic group of Americans.

We have faced this question!! Why are we still dealing with this issue 150 years later?  If the legislation in Arkansas and Indiana is changed in a legal context, does that change the hearts and minds of those Americans who live there? If the revised legislation states that discrimination of any of a long list of social or ethnic groups is illegal, what other excuse will our fragmented society find to single out one group for second-class treatment. Will America deconstruct into religious wars between Baptists and Mormons over an interpretation of God’s word?  Will we battle like the Sunnis and the Shias over whose leader was the rightful successor to Mohammed? For 1,500 years?

Why are we intolerant of folks who are slightly different from those we each hold dear? Does not every mother, everywhere in the world, wake each day and hope that her children will be safe, happy, healthy and well fed? Why, as a species, are we so intolerant?

If we regress to the hatreds of 150 years ago as expressed by Henry Wise in the Seattle Times column, what is the future for our grandchildren, and that of their grandchildren?

We must speak up and push back against the hatred and intolerance expressed in Indiana and Arkansas.  We must all become like Ghandi and Martin Luther King. It is apparent that the road to universal tolerance is very, very long and hard.

Ed Sutton

Orcas Island