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?