Sunday, 19 September 2010

We will not tolerate intolerance!

I find it such a strange thing that our society shouts so much about the need for tolerance and yet is fast becoming so intolerant, and the reason is because tolerance is being redefined. 

The classical meaning of tolerance (the tolerance that is a virtue) is that I am prepared to put up with people with disagree with me - I don't demand that everyone agrees with me or outlaw or persecute other groups, people are entitled to their own views.

But is this what we are saying in our society?  Sadly, no!  What is tolerance nowadays?  Not that we put up with people who disagree with us, but that we don't disagree with people!  In a very strange and disturbing way tolerance now means that you agree and affirm everyone's point of view or choice of lifestyle, and if you have reasoned, principled disagreements you are labelled as intolerant.  What our society increasingly demands is that you affirm that everyone else's view is just as right as yours and everyone else's way is just as good as yours.  This is true in the religious sphere - to say that Christ is the only way of salvation is intolerant, even if you have reasons for believing it and aren't forcing others to convert.  It's also true in the moral sphere - e.g. if you articulate reasons objecting to homosexual relationships being put on the same level as the heterosexual monogamous marriage relationship you are intolerant, no matter what your reasons are.

I hope the clear thinking reader can see what is happening here - in the drive to become "tolerant", debate is being shut down and discussion stifled, and people are cowed into silence because they know they will get pounced on by the unthinking who simply call them names - bigoted, intolerant, arrogant etc. etc.  It seems in the pursuit of this new tolerance people are not prepared to put up with certain points of view, which means, according to the classical definition, they are intolerant!  You aren't allowed your view, they won't tolerate it!

Our culture is trying to tell us that all views are equally valid, but no one believes it - some views are silly, some views are dangerous, and some views are right.  It is obvious our culture doesn't believe all views are equally valid because if you say your view is that Christ is the only way of salvation you very quickly see that they don't believe your view is valid!

Don't fall into the easy trap of dismissing a view as intolerant - engage the ideas and deal with the arguments, because it may be that after examining the facts you will find that the view you disdained was right after all.