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Learning tolerance in light of the Egypt mosque attack

Characters from ‘Parks and Recreation’ demonstrate that we are able to respect people even if we do not respect their beliefs

Ioana Ciuperca, Staff writer

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On Nov. 24, 311 people were killed in Egypt, and at least 122 were injured, the basis for this violence merely being a difference in opinion towards religion. The victims of the Al-Rawda mosque attack practiced Sufism, a religion that the Islamic State militants consider to be heresy and witchcraft. This religiously-infused anger led to the most violent attack in Egyptian history. In these times of crisis, when differing viewpoints seem fit to be resolved with extreme acts of violence, many turn to fictitious TV series as an escape from the hostile reality. These TV shows serve as a reminder of the compassion and tolerance we seem to be lacking in the news today.

Enter Parks and Recreation, a show about the government, waffles, friendship, and most importantly, tolerance. Leslie Knope, the spunky main character and government employee, dedicates her life’s work to her passion for the government and making her city of Pawnee, Indiana better for all. She goes above and beyond work protocol, and is the glue that keeps the Parks and Recreation Dept. together.  

Democracy is the most important thing in Knope’s life, right after friendship and breakfast foods. However, if Leslie Knope is democracy incarnate, then her boss, Ron Swanson, would be the complete opposite.

Swanson is a libertarian, with firm beliefs that America would be better off if the government ceased to exist, but despite this, he works as head of the Parks and Recreation Dept. in government.

In spite of all this, however, one cannot deny that Swanson and Knope have a friendship that goes beyond impersonal work relations. Despite their two completely polarized political viewpoints, the two are very close. The reason for this tolerance is the underlying current of respect these two fictitious characters have for one another, respect that their opinions, however differing, are still valid. We have much to learn from them.

In our contemporary times, things such as politics and religion are innate parts of our identities and differing views are wont to lead to violence. Lines are drawn so deeply between two sides that our society has turned into no man’s land: any brave enough to stand is free to be shot down. The mosque attack is proof of this, showing hatred and intolerance towards the Sufi religion as the basis of violence in Egypt. This has been going on for quite some time, first escalating in Nov. 2016 when a blind man was beheaded for practicing Sufism.

We have lost the ability to be tolerant towards each other’s values and beliefs, which is further seen through President Trump’s unprofessional and hateful retweeting of anti-Muslim videos from UK far-right group Britain First, enraging not only American and British citizens, but also UK Prime Minister Theresa May, declaring that his actions were the “wrong thing to do.”

Through this spreading of hate we have become more narrow-minded. Just as Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson wouldn’t be as strong without each other, our society is crumbling and quickly regressing as we continuously lose the ability to respect one another.

Now, this does not mean that we should wholeheartedly accept a policy contradicting our own, or give up any of our principles, but merely that we should accept that people will have opinions different from our own. And while that can be irksome, it should not be grounds for hatred or, even more severe, violence. There will always be someone with a belief conflicting our own, or a religion we may not agree with, but our immediate reaction need to be acceptance before attacking.

We need to resolve to the fact that people can think or believe in something different, and that that does not make them wrong. We should direct our actions solely against the policies themselves, not the people that are for them. We all have the ability to accept and respect one another, and even come together, just like Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson.

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The student news site of Clark Magnet High School
Learning tolerance in light of the Egypt mosque attack