Love, secularism, and tolerance

Veronica writes on the DNC in Philadelphia this week:

The Democratic Convention seemed to turn into a big love-fest last night. I know I’m not the only one who felt like I was being lectured to by a revivalist preacher during Cory Booker’s speech, because it’s all over social media—along with his big-hearted “I love you” message to Donald Trump. As glad as I am to see love and forgiveness exchanged between men who disagree with each other, I have to admit it’s a little weird in context. …

There was a lot of talk about love last night, and it was not limited to Booker’s sermon. It just makes me wonder what happens when the federal government gets into the business of charity and tells us how we’re supposed to love one another. Isn’t that kind of moralism strangely reminiscent of old theocracies?

Last night Booker disparaged mere tolerance, and exhorted us to love one another: “Tolerance is the wrong way. Tolerance says I’m just going to stomach your right to be different, that if you disappear from the face of the Earth, I’m no better or worse off.”

Instead of tolerance he stressed “interdependence” and “unity.” But I wonder what exactly that means in practice, and how it will play out in a free society that was founded to protect every person’s right to form their own thoughts, beliefs, and opinions, and to have those opinions tolerated by others. If we throw this kind of tolerance for differences out the window, who gets to decide what we all think and believe and what it means to love? The federal government?

“Isn’t that kind of moralism strangely reminiscent of old theocracies?”