Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Few Simple Words on Tolerance

What is tolerance?

It might be easier to define it by what it is not. Tolerance does not consist of cheering for the opposition. It is not being joyful at the prospect of differing points of view. It is not agreement. It does not consist of buying into even the tiniest iota of someone else's point of view.

It is putting up with people you might generally consider to be the blankest sort of slackjawed morons because they have every right to say what they think, unimpeded by your outrage, real or feigned. This is the price you pay for being tolerated by people who may very well consider you to be wrong, idiotic and degenerate, at best.

In a sense, toleration is the essence of civilization. It is being civilized, and understanding that freedom of speech and democracy is hard work. It is truly very heavy lifting sometimes, and it is tempting to believe the worst of those with whom we disagree.

We have no right to demand that people respect our opinions or accept us and our beliefs; what we all must insist upon, however, is our unimpeded right to have them.

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