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  • Donald Lee

Is Don Cherry Intolerant?

It’s funny how certain things stick in your memory. I remember many decades ago, back in the ‘80s, the Alberta government had a big commission on tolerance and understanding. They toured all over the province, held public meetings, wrote a big report – all at great expense to the taxpayers, of course. I laughed when I read the conclusion of this high-cost exercise and the high-priced help. I paraphrased it as “We will not tolerate intolerance”. Apparently, these wise sages could not perceive the ridiculous irony in their advice.

It really would be funny were it not for the fact that things have gone downhill from there. With that intellectual foundation, the “tolerance” movement has proceeded to tyrannize the whole country with intolerance in the name of tolerance.


So poor Don Cherry gets crucified for being Don Cherry. Everyone in Canada knows he’s an opinionated, crusty, strong-willed, outspoken individualist. Perhaps a relic of a time when we really did have freedom in Canada. Maybe he doesn’t fit in with today’s politically correct, mind-numbingly bland, ideologically-imposed Newspeak. But does that justify depriving him of his job, occupation, and career? Does that sound like tolerance?


The great irony of tolerance is that to be tolerant, you must also be tolerant of the intolerant. Otherwise, you are intolerant. What is the spiritual dimension of this? It may seem a bit convoluted but stick with me.


A crusty exterior, but a pearl of great worth inside.

In a nutshell, holiness consists in bringing ourselves closer to God (or the Universe, or Source, or whatever you choose to call it). That is, we want to express god-like qualities more fully in our lives: more love, more peace, more compassion, more whatever virtue you most associate with the Divine.


God gives all of us free will. We are free to go to a far-off land, spiritually, and squander the spiritual gifts we have been given by our Father. (I’m referencing the parable of the prodigal son—in case you didn’t notice.) If and when we return, all foolishness is forgotten and we are welcomed home. We are free to leave, free to return, free to do whatever we want—without judgment (but not without consequence).


If we are to raise ourselves above the level of petty closemindedness that demands everyone think and act exactly as we do, then we must tolerate everyone who disagrees with us. Godliness involves granting free will to everyone else. Those who crucified Don Cherry have simply demonstrated their own tyranny and spiritual debasement.


Don Cherry has a big heart that is filled with goodwill. One would have to be blind not to see this. If you cannot tolerate his crusty exterior, then not only are you intolerant, but you miss the pearl of great worth inside.


God Bless You!

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