I am troubled by the hostility I encounter every day. It does not bother me that people are vehement about their beliefs, but rather the way they communicate them to others. The politicians, the editorials, the news channels, the evangelists, even bloggers, don't know how to get their point across without insulting their opposition.
The point of communication is to convey your thoughts, your beliefs, your needs to someone else -- not to convert them or coerce them into your way of reasoning. To berate or threaten those who feel differently will not work in trying to get them to understand your views.
Now, we can talk about tolerance, but the truth is most of us are not tolerant. However, that does not mean we cannot communicate in a nonviolent fashion. After all, it goes to reason that if you can communicate your needs and thoughts without insulting or threatening the listener, you will have a better chance of getting that person to listen, understand, and perhaps agree to your views.
One of the best books I have read in the last ten years is "Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Compassion" by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD. This book should be required reading for all people, like "Johnny Tremain" was back when I was a kid. OK, little joke there, but every parent, teacher, politician, manager -- anyone who has to interface with other people -- should read this book. It is well written and shows how easy and effective it is to communicate in a nonviolent way.
When communication is nonviolent, it not only conveys to the listener your needs, but also tacitly lets them know that you care about theirs. This is when real communication can take place because it is an exchange of ideas and needs.
Isn't that what communication is all about?