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Leading by example
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Obama's invitation of the Rev. Rick Warren to speak at his inauguration has ignited a fire storm on both sides of the political aisle. For the left wing, eight years of intolerance at the hands of "incurious George" led to an expectation of payback. Toleration of right wing opinions is not part of their agenda.

The right wing, who Warren is seen as representing, is also going up in flames. Their complaint is that Warren should be intolerant of Obama and simply refuse to participate. Both positions are equally wrong and for largely the same reasons.

Grudging or miserly tolerance of others will not lead us to a better world. The present day results of intolerance are all too evident to need citing. Genuine respect for others is what is needed. Respect that enables conversations with people whose positions deeply disturb you. Respect that keeps you acting with respect towards others, even if they are disrespectful of you.

That is asking a lot but that makes it all the more important that President-elect Obama lead by example. We have too many leaders who pander to our lack of respect for others. Pro-choice leaders lack any respect for right-to-lifers. Right-to-lifers are all too willing to return the favor. Thirty-five years after Roe v. Wade, that lack of respect means that debate hasn't moved forward even an inch.

We have tried intolerance, intolerance over abortion rights, homosexuality, immigration, education, medical care, pollution and any number of other issues. Administrations, both Republican and Democrat, have been both petty and dishonest in their rush to cater to our intolerance. It is time for a leader who wants to lead by respect and to teach us to have respect for each other and, just as importantly, ourselves.

Patrick Durusau is a local resident of Covington. His column regularly appears on Fridays.