Skip to content
October 1, 2019 / Congau

Intolerable Tolerance

It’s easy to be tolerant when you are indifferent. When you don’t care anyway, you won’t condemn those who do. You will shrug your shoulders and let anyone bother about anything they like, and then you’ll return to your dinner and your tv show.

Sure, tolerance is a virtue. We should accept people for who they are. Their silly little quirks and innocent habits shouldn’t upset us. What is not important should not be important.

But some things are very important and should be. If something is so essential to you that it governs your whole life and your fundamental values, how can you be expected just to shrug off someone who has a diametrically opposite perspective on things? It wouldn’t be possible, and it wouldn’t be desirable.

For better and for worse, the secular West is probably more tolerant than any other society in history. There are so many belief systems and isms floating around that we just can’t afford getting upset every time we encounter something different. But for many this abundance of worldviews must have a rather benumbing effect. Since there’s so much to pick from and since it seems one can get away with anything, anything is as good as anything else, which means that nothing is really preferable. Then you have reached the pinnacle of tolerance; that is, utter indifference.

A free exchange of ideas necessitates that people have ideas and that they believe in them. If people are so extremely tolerant that they don’t even fully believe in their own opinions, there will not be much to tolerate anyway. A certain amount of intolerance is necessary to take yourself seriously and thereby enable you to be tolerant. If you like everything, you like nothing, and if you tolerate everything, you tolerate nothing. Too much tolerance is intolerable.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: