Learn Tolerance, or Die Alone.

(For Kelly.)

Ever had a conversation like this?

Man:  Tolerance is a destructive force.  It erodes true belief.

Girl:  If you never tolerate the other side’s point of view, how can you expect to have an honest debate about the issues?

Man:  I’m not going to tolerate false beliefs. How can you ask me to debate the truth?  The truth harbors no debate.

So…  Maybe I’m watering down the true content and exaggerating the real words said for dramatic effect- but the principle remains true to form.  One person takes deep offense at tolerance because in their mind it means allowing an offense to the truth to continue.  Yet, simultaneously he is asking that his own views be tolerated and accepted.  (Or even affirmed.)

Here is the question to ask that man:  Would you rather be right and alone, or tolerant in the company of others?  Because to be so unnassailably intolerant means a life of isolation.  Why?  Because when we go to the grocery store, we are practicing tolerance.  We are offering up money to corporations who do not necessarily support our point of view.  (If you are conservative, check the amount of stores who offer money to left-wing political lobbies- if you are left-wing, check the amount of stores who offer money to right wing political lobbies.  Most corporations do both.)  It is nigh near impossible to live in the United States of America without corporately endorsing tolerance.  Paying our taxes is also an act of tolerance- as I can guarantee that no matter your affiliation, politically or religiously, our government acts on behalf of those you disagree with.

You may say, okay, this kind of tolerance-by-six-degrees-of-separation is impossible to avoid and thus must be accepted.  But let’s take this a step further.  Let’s look at humanity as a whole.  Have you ever (even once) met someone with whom you fully agreed?  We can all find people who agree with our most closely held beliefs, but at some point every relationship experiences differences.  My spouse is someone who I agree with eighty percent of the time- but don’t for a second  believe that the other twenty percent is insignificant.  When it’s things like how to best make eggs, you can roll your eyes and let go.  But sometimes in even the best relationship there is serious disagreement.  What do you do then?  Demand the other person agree with your point of view?  Tear them down until they are forced to capitulate?  Scrape away at them day after day, trying to win them to your side by hook or crook no matter what the cost?

At some point, isn’t the cost of relationship tolerance?  Don’t we all have to love and accept each other despite disagreement, or never know love and acceptance at all?

5 thoughts on “Learn Tolerance, or Die Alone.

  1. Good Lord, thank you for this post. It gets so frustrating reading blogs decrying tolerance. Usually they jump straight to “if you believe in tolerance, you have to tolerate the KKK” or something just as sick. So therefore you have to hate tolerance because you can’t accept everyone. I just hate the logic in it. I love that you are so benign about it.

  2. This is a really interesting question and I’ve seen it fought out a lot over the internet.

    Would you rather be right and alone, or tolerant in the company of others?

    I would certainly rather be with people. However the crux of the problem that is Jesus/Allah/Jehovah/etc does not want you to relent. They explicitly state that above all their way of life is best and that tolerance of other codes is heresy.

    (Now, before you tell me about ‘turn the other cheek’ ‘give unto caesar’ speeches of Jesus. I am aware of these, however the overall message and purpose of Jesus was that his was ‘true way’. Also, Jesus and many of his disciples did the whole isolation thing and have been thought of as selfless for it).

    Obviously ‘turn the other cheek’ and ‘give unto caesar’ are in direct opposition to ‘true way’ speeches. This creates a situation of cognitive dissonance, or if you like, double think – where people try to support to naturally opposed schools of thought simultaneously.

    This cognitive dissonance happens in all societies, however I notice it is particularly strong in America.

    Americans make a big deal of being a nation that broke away from England and its troubles of ‘Protestants VS Catholics’ by establishes seperation of Church vs State. However, I have never seen a nation that is currently so desperate to use its majority religion, Christianity, to lord over the rest (eg, trying to block gay marriage rights). I have also seen a lot of Fundemental Christians in America (on blogs and in the media) defining America as ‘a nation under God’ etc.

    It’s an nteresting and frustrating paradox.

  3. This is just one of the many many posts that give me reason to want to give you the bridge builder award Lindsey. If you are interested, there are two rules for this award: The first rule is to write 3 ways you build bridges between yourself and others. The second is to nominate 3 of your favorite blogs/writers for this award.
    I have thanked you before… and I will continue to be grateful for your voice!

    Here is the award code:

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