What it means to be a truly "tolerant" person


Are Many Who Preach Tolerance the Loudest, the Most Intolerant of All?

One of the most popular beliefs in today's western culture is the belief called "tolerance".  It sounds like a good belief to hold and to practice towards others.  However, there are some important distinctions to be made about the belief.  Sadly and oftentimes, those who often preach tolerance the loudest are some of the most intolerant people.  What this means is that these people hold a contradictory, self-serving belief that only makes them hypocritical.

Below are three versions or definitions for a 'tolerant person':

Version 1 - The Most Popular

'To be a tolerant person, you must accept all other people's beliefs or behaviors, and if you cannot accept something, you must not express disapproval towards the person(s) who hold the belief or engage in the behavior.'

A belief that includes this principle - 'you must accept all other people's beliefs or behaviors' - is self defeating statement which means it contains within itself at least two points that contradict each other and thus is impossible to practice.  The person who says they hold to that belief and encounters a person who 'believes they should not accept all other people's beliefs or behaviors', will contradict their own belief by rejecting that person's belief and judging it as wrong.

So, for example, let's say person 1 is a person who says they hold to this version of 'tolerance'.  Let's say person 2 comes along and says, 'I believe that homosexual behavior is wrong'.  Person 1 reacts to person 2's statement and says, 'oh, your belief is wrong, you are a bigot'. Person 1 has not accepted Person 2's belief and in so doing is in contradiction to their own stated tolerance belief. 

Please read this again slowly to understand it.  In essence, this belief is promoted by those who desire to believe that there is no universal moral standard by which people should live - just their own personal standard.  In so doing, they practice hypocrisy in terms of not applying their tolerance belief to others who disagree.

 

Version 2 - Better Than Version 1 But Still Deficient

'To be a tolerant person, you must accept your culture's majority views/beliefs of acceptable human beliefs or behaviors, and if you cannot accept it, you must not express disapproval towards the person(s) who hold the belief or engage in the behavior.'

This statement is better than the first self-contradicting and thus false statement just examined, but it still contains two serious flaws.  First, who decides what the 'majority' views/beliefs are, and by what standard do you judge them as right or wrong?  For example, let's say most people in a nation/society other than the United States believe that American people are generally evil.  Is the majority of people in that society 'tolerant' of American people?  According to the above belief, only if they do not express disapproval of American people.  However, the truth is that human belief drives human behavior, thus exposing the second flaw.  If a group of people believe that American people are generally evil, then they will very likely manifest behavior that aligns with that belief.  It is unreasonable to believe that people who hold a belief like, 'those people are evil' will not somehow manifest that belief with consistent behavior when opportunities arise.

 

Version 3 - The Truly Tolerant Person

'To be a tolerant person, you ought to cause no harm to others nor desire harm come to them no matter how different they are from you or no matter how much you disagree with their beliefs.  The truly tolerant person will be careful or sensitive in the way they seek to have a discussion with the person they disagree with.'

This statement is not self-contradictory and does not contain the significant flaws of the prior statements, thus is should be adopted as the only valid definition of a 'tolerant' person.  Yet, it is not.  Instead, the popular culture holds to some version of the first two definitions of 'a tolerant person' above.

At the most basic level, the popular concept of 'tolerance' (version 1 above) is false.  If a 'tolerant' person judges another person as 'intolerant', then their belief is self-defeating, meaning they contradict themselves.  The moment a person proclaiming to be 'tolerant' claims or castigates another as ' intolerant', they have no reasonable basis to proclaim or believe that they themselves are tolerant!

What many who proclaim 'tolerance' the loudest are really saying is that they have a belief or behavior they think is right and good and want others to accept it and believe it.  Those who disagree with their viewpoint are labeled as 'intolerant' or 'bigots' or some other such intolerant label - as we have seen, a logically false practice.  This is an extremely important truth I hope people readers will be able to understand.

For example, homosexuals seem to be a person-type that are eager to proclaim the 'tolerance' belief - they want others to tolerate their beliefs and behavior regarding human sexuality.  They say that it is intolerant for a person to say (or believe) that a homosexual belief or behavior is wrong or harmful.  They say that their beliefs and/or behavior ought to be viewed as good, right and acceptable human behavior and those that say or even believe otherwise are at a minimum intolerant.  It seems to this author that many outspoken homosexuals seem to be unable to refrain from more severe judgments against people who disagree with their beliefs or behavior, and use terms like 'hateful' , 'bigots', 'homophobic' and the like to label those who disagree with them.  Do you see the problem?  Even if a person is a kind and caring person and would never think of harming someone including homosexuals - and essentially is perfect in gently and sincerely expressing their view that homosexual behavior is wrong and harmful - they are judged as at least 'intolerant' by people who hold to the belief - or practice it - and who want others to believe the same way. 

What is the homosexual's standard to justify their beliefs and behavior?  They have none other than where relativism leaves people - 'because what I believe is right and true for me'; or 'because this group of people believe it is acceptable'.  Unfortunately it also makes the homosexuals who promote the 'tolerance' belief, just as hypocritical as the religious people their appear to hate.  As can be seen in the behavior and words of many outspoken homosexuals or those homosexuals who actively promote their lifestyle, they do not practice what they preach - they are among the most intolerant people (by any definition) towards others who don't agree with their beliefs and practices.  While I agree that religious people have discriminated against homosexual persons, is discriminating back the solution?  If homosexuals characterize people who have a different view on healthy human sexuality as "hateful", why is their solution of hating them back right?

(Lest you think the author to be biased against homosexuals, I would also say that most religious people do not practice what they preach and also seem to have great difficulty avoiding hypocrisy.  In fact, this author would say that we all as humans have difficultly avoiding hypocrisy to some degree.  This author believes that a life well lived has two components: First, having the right beliefs to guide one's life, and second, consistently practicing or living out those beliefs.)

In regard to avoiding hypocrisy, it is extremely important to make the distinction between a person's failures to live out what they say they believe in contrast to a person saying the standard they believe needs to be changed to accommodate their behavior.  For example, I can say ('preach') that I believe that all high saturated fat food is unhealthy.  My standard could be medical or scientific reports or data that demonstrate that indeed high saturated fat food is bad for human health.  If, however , you catch me eating a high saturated fat food, my response will be telling.  If I say, 'Oh, well, the evidence that high fat foods are bad for human health is suspect', then I am justifying my behavior and wrongly attacking the standard to do so.  If, however, I said, 'well, yes, high fat food is bad and I should never eat it but I fail and occasionally eat it', my response is not attacking the standard and thus my response is more objective and humble.  Unfortunately, we as humans seem to lack clarity when it comes to seeing our own faults and we would rather get what we want (in this example, the flavor of high saturated fat foods), defend ourselves and attack the standard rather than been seen as wrong.  What exactly accounts for that? : )  Perhaps pride?  See The Problem.

Here are some additional examples to illustrate the erroneous nature of the popular 'tolerant' belief. 

Example A:

An adult person believes that it is good to have sexual relations with 12 year olds and lives in a nation where that behavior is not 'illegal'.  The adult's belief is, 'It is good and right for me to have sexual relations with 12 year olds'.

According to the popular tolerant belief, it would be intolerant to attempt to change or correct that adult's belief.

 

Example B:

A person believes that teaching young children that Jews are less-than-human scum is good and right.

That person's belief ought to be 'tolerated', and to try to convince them otherwise would be intolerant.

 

Example C:

A person believes that dumping a small amount of toxic waste into a large river will not harm anything since the river is so large and it will be diluted.

Don't try and correct that person because that would be intolerant!

 

Example D:

Adult person A believes that God exists and has given mankind a moral standard both by which to live, and by which they will be held accountable, including that the only acceptable expressions of human sexuality are between a husband and his wife (a man and woman committed to care for each other for life).

Is this belief 'tolerated' and 'respected' by the many people who currently live in the US?  Here is a very realistic scenario to test if Person A's beliefs are tolerated.

Person B, a person who proclaims their 'tolerance' belief regularly to others, yells at person A (as person A states his belief publicly in a calm and appropriate manner) and accuses person A of 'proclaiming hate speech'.

Does the reader get the point?  Will the reader use reason to conclude what is evidently and undeniably true?  What is evident is that reason or truth do not play a part in Person B's reaction to Person A, and it is also evident that Person B is contradicting his own stated 'tolerance' belief and thus is acting hypocritically.  As such, Person B's 'corrections' of Person A should be ignored and his statements regarding the topic he is being hypocritical about should be seriously questioned, in this case, his 'tolerance' belief. 

What happens in reality?  Person B's words get published by the 'objective press' while the same press paints Person B's words in a favorable light and context while subtly (increasingly not so subtly) supporting Person B's contention that Person A is 'full of hate'.

When the laws are changed to support the homosexual view that believing or stating the belief that homosexual behavior is morally wrong is 'hate speech' or 'evil intolerance', what do you think is going to happen to those people who speak out their believe that homosexual behavior is wrong?

When the homosexuals and those who support them and call people who oppose their agenda "hateful bigots" get the political power to enforce their view, how do you think those people are going to act towards we who disagree with them?  Do you think calm and respectful reason is going to the path?  Do you think 'tolerance' is going to characterize their actions?  Or do you think that the hatred expressed in their voices as they call us "hateful bigots" might escalate?

Have you been captured by this falsehood?  Would you like to escape?  See The Problem.

In summary, if you want to be a truly tolerant person, then you must find the love of God and when you do, you will not desire to harm anyone.  Then, and only then, will you become a truly tolerant person.  And then, don't waste your life, but rather work for something more valuable than anything else...come, join the peaceful revolution!