December 14, 2017 – If anything, recent political history has made us aware that we all live in our own little bubbles, complete with our own belief systems and cultures. It explains the shock many have felt when others protest or vote against our beliefs, our values. We simply must learn to accept that we are a diverse country that needs to accommodate such differences.

Tolerance is a foundational ideal in America, fortified by our Constitutional right to freedom of religion, thought and expression. Democracy demands participation and rational, fact based debate and resolution of issues as they arise. Ours gives us a civilized, law-based way to deal with change and discord arising out of disparate belief systems. We can’t demand that others conform to our particular religious belief systems but we have a right to our beliefs. Americans need to support our democracy.

Currently there is a renewed quest for gender equality in the face of cultural changes. Women are more vocal in their demand for respect, privacy, dignity and equal pay. For example, there still is anxiety about women in the workplace rather than the home while it is clear that women need to work given two incomes are now often necessary to properly raise and support children. In any event, women no longer live at home until they are married. They need to support themselves and feel safe in the workplace. Adaptation to this reality requires understanding and empathy. Moralization and outrage about these facts only desensitize and foster backlash.

Various means of birth control have existed since ancient times but remain unreliable. A woman’s Constitutional right to an abortion has been the law of the land for almost 45 years. Nevertheless, efforts to undermine women’s reproductive rights to control their own bodies and futures persist. For example, the “Pro Life” movement reflects a religious belief that a fetus is a child and an abortion is therefore tantamount to murder regardless of the circumstances. They want to overturn the law. Many attempt to shame and discredit people who disagree. The “Pro-Choice” movement claims that a fetus is not a child until born and living separate from the mother’s body. Each movement is clearly supported by different beliefs. In any event, Pro-Choice folk support the law and a woman’s right to choose not to be pregnant and to have access to the means supporting that right. Many simply find it immoral to bring a child into the world that will not be loved and supported. There are other realities considered. The world’s population is near 8 billion and is expected to be 11 billion by 2050. The earth has limited space and resources which are already strained. Many therefore also feel they have a duty to limit the size of their families.

I was raised Catholic, support the law but would never have an abortion. However, I support a woman’s right to choose how she wants to live her life and believe that biology no longer need dictate a woman’s fate. Support of the law and tolerance of different points of view, particularly in the face of change, are essential for peace and stability in this country. No American has the right to demand another’s adherence to their particular religious or moral beliefs. Every woman has a right to privacy. We need to tolerate our differences and rights.