Hoosiers from every walk of life had to stop and scratch their heads a little in the past couple of weeks. The sad part is that the state is known to the rest of the country as being a little backwards anyway, so this wasn’t a new activity for most of us.
There is the one crazy teen mom from Anderson, Amber; “Parks and Recreation’s” fictional town of Pawnee; “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s” Indiana mole women; Richard Mourdock’s unfortunate comments in his last run for the Senate; our restriction on Sunday sales of liquor; and now add the Religious Freedom Restoration Act fiasco to that list, including the unfortunate situation that Memories Pizza found themselves in the middle of.
My biggest issue as a teenager was being stuck on an island surrounded by cornfields. That now seems like a distant and simple dream.
When tolerance is the goal, there has to be a better way to deal with intolerance than facing it with brute force and threats of violence. Seems rather intolerant, doesn’t it?
This is an area of the country where we get fired up over religion, politics, our town’s revival/renaissance, community and sustainability, Michigan drivers – ok, maybe Michigan drivers are more relaxed and they are the ones who actually have it right – and that’s what makes us so unique. (That, and the lack of beer bottles in our carts on Sunday.) We are a part of a country that has a lot to say, and for better or sometimes for worse, not a lot of us are afraid to say it.
It would be ideal to take the political machine – the money, the lobbyists, etc. – out of the picture and just have the voices be heard, and that is precisely what just happened with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Governor Pence signed a controversial law, then gave the media a deer-in-headlights look in an interview as the country reacted to the decision. Then the news blew up locally, and by the end of the next week, we had a reworded law. What we also have is a debate on what tolerance looks like.
If tolerance is threatening to burn down a pizza shop because they don’t believe the same way I do, then I don’t know what tolerance is. While I don’t agree with what the owners said, and I wouldn’t have given them my business, I also wouldn’t have wished violence on them.
Remember, you vote with your dollar every day where you choose to spend your hard-earned cash. With the media fiasco surrounding Memories Pizza, they have a crowd-funded campaign earning them more in the immediate future than they would have if they had voiced a different opinion publicly. Clearly, many people are funding their right to say what they choose as well.
We need a face-to-face. We need to grab a slice with our community – from a less controversial pie shop at the moment, perhaps – and to get to know each other again, and not just the caricature we all post online. We need to humanize both sides of the argument. That would fix quite a few issues in the world. That is what tolerance is to me: recognizing the humanity and good in those different from myself, and accepting and welcoming that into my sphere. If that is the tolerance people want to spread, they have to also add in the very important ingredient of acceptance.
Now, heat all of that. When the cheese melts and holds it all together, and the crust turns into a crispy golden hue, it’s time to eat.