One of my favorite sports writers just provided an excellent Civics lesson. He pointed out how the the act of a professional football player choosing to sit during the National Anthem is an example of what America is really all about. He reminded me that along with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the Constitution guarantees both the freedom of expression and the freedom to disagree. In fact, we're supposed to disagree! This is what encourages discussion, inspires deeper thought, and enables our growth as persons, and maturity as citizens.
An inconvenient truth that we like to forget is the fact that the right to disagree is at the heart of American Democracy, and the essence of what distinguishes us from dictatorships.
The inability for an adult to tolerate differences of opinion is a sign of arrested development. It's an indication that one's intellectual maturity is still a work in progress. Having a sense of security in one's beliefs, and confidence in expressing them is both a foundation of authentic personhood and the cornerstone of a stable democracy. Criticizing and personally denigrating those with whom we disagree is a sign that our beliefs and values haven't fully integrated with our psyche.
I think much of the problem has to do with the false belief that our thoughts and feelings are never supposed to change, lest we appear wishy-washy. Somehow, growth and an accompanying adjustment in how we interpret the world is seen as weakness instead of what it truly is - strength of character.
Always having to be right and stubbornly defending ideas, no matter how erroneous, is not a sign of strength as many believe. Case in point - it's a fact that the clinically insane are never wrong.