, Salem, MA


October 20, 2012

Watson: Fanaticism is blind to tolerance and compromise


Because the very founding of this country was in large part a reaction to — and a flight from — religious, class, governmental, societal, and occupational strictures or oppressions, the actions of the new American citizenry and its government were to bake into the very DNA of the aspirations of the country the values of freedom, liberty, tolerance, respect, and egalitarianism that have created the resilient and ever-evolving pluralism and idealism that America is famous for around the world.

Now, justice and responsibility are sometimes missing in our collective actions. And our politics can be bare-knuckled and shrill and small-minded. At times, we seem unable to imagine the lives of others.

As we face this election season, and the enormous, probably open-ended, problems — national and global — awaiting attention, we can remind ourselves not to let our support for our philosophies push away the solutions that may require compromise, risk, imperfection, difficulty, care, and finding life in the gray areas between black and white.


Brian T. Watson is a regular Salem News columnist. Contact him at

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