Today’s news brought word that Roger Ailes died. Among the limited reporting I caught was the playing of audio clips from some of his remarks. This statement really struck a chord with me:
Tolerance is a two-way street.
In American society today, “willingness to listen to different opinion” seems be a topper for a lot of people’s limit lists. Even people I know who consider themselves open minded, clear thinking, and logic loving draw lines in their personal sandbox against really listening to someone who thinks differently.
A person may be accused of being unaware (i.e. check your privilege) or in disagreement that they are harboring a limit (i.e. don’t appropriate my culture, your sources are no good), but what’s really happening is an intolerance to allow the other person to think differently. The discourse seems to be only one way – my way – and what you say/think/do is just flat out wrong, therefore intolerable.
In addition to specific limit list items, people now express intolerance based even on the size of another person’s sandbox. What do I mean? Well, a global perspective is considered much better than a regional one, which is a step above a parochial one. The bottom of the sandbox scale is the personal perspective.
Yet the personal perspective actually creates the shifting dune base from which we all launch our opinions.
Limits – Everyone Has Them
Have you ever considered your personal list of limits? Perhaps you have aversion to pain beyond a pinprick, little to no patience with know-it-alls, or fierce loyalty to a specific sports team. Maybe you eschew genetically modified organisms, religious convention, or chewing bubble gum on Tuesday. You may wail and gnash your teeth at the power hungry politicians plotting to rule the world.
We all have limits, or parameters that inform our responses. Some are based on established historical teachings while others accept only personal experience or first-hand knowledge as a trustworthy foundation.
Regardless of how we build our lists, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in social ‘discourse’ lately. Too many citizens are pounding down someone else’s opinion based on their own limits. It’s behavior totally counterproductive to encouraging diversity.
Charity Above All
Here’s the thing. We don’t get to define or judge other people’s limits based on our own. If I’m not liberal enough for you, or you’re not conservative enough for me, our positions don’t give us the right to judge each other. Our disagreements must be handled from a place of loving patience and care.
I’ll tolerate you if you say you love me.
I’ll tolerate you if we think alike.
But if you quote a source I don’t agree with
I’d rather that you off and ‘take a hike’!
I’ll listen only if you’re thinking my way,
agreeing to my every wit and whim.
Your mention of a fact I find appalling
confirms for me you’re really very dim.
Oh wait, you say you hear what I am saying?
And though you see it different – that’s okay?
Perhaps because true tolerance obeying,
you’re on the road already that’s “two- way”
What do you think about the opening quote? Has tolerance gone too far? Not far enough? Tell us about a time you saw it play out right by leaving a comment below.