Same job, different uniform.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Just a little tolerance, please?

I am a tolerant man. I have strong opinions about pretty much everything, but I also understand that many of those opinions are not widely shared in the world at large. And that’s fine by me. Likewise, other people have opinions that they hold strongly as well, and that suits me just as well. The world is too interesting and complex to have uniformity of thought about anything, and individuals bring all sorts of baggage and experience to their thinking that is unique, and often novel. So one might think that, in such a world, a simple understanding of that sort of diversity of thought would be acknowledged, understood, and, perhaps, even generally tolerated. But while one might think that, one would be, mostly, wrong.

What I see, generally, is stark demonization across the political and social spectrum. The Left demonizes the Right as racist, greedy, uncaring, stupid swine out to make a buck and put the old and the poor out on the street dressed in rags, while the Right demonizes the Left as apparatchik Communist sympathizers out to steal guns, money and property while releasing violent criminals and sexual deviance on the society at large. Now, is it true that the Right, generally, spends more time worrying about individual economic rights and property protections than the Left? Obviously. Is it also true that the Left spends more time pondering the inequalities of society and the problems encountered by those people it considers to be marginalized by capitalism or social circumstance than the Right? Also obvious. And each side truly has a point, but each only sees the half of the picture encompassed by its ideology. And, in seeing that half, each believes that it is has a coherent vision of the whole. And each extreme is dead wrong.

It seems to me that simple tolerance is what we ought to be looking for in public discourse. The simple willingness to sit and listen politely when someone has something to say has much to recommend it, and a genuinely free society absolutely requires it.

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Blogger girlfriday said...

Have you been reading John Stuart Mill?

I think you're right. Though the word tolerance has taken a hit. Its popular meaning is "anything goes" instead of "Lord make my words sweet and tender for tomorrow I may have to eat them."

And, what if the person's opinion is intolerable?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Blogger Jeb said...

Snarky - I always listen politely -but that doesn't mean that I'm still not right . . .

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


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