Saturday, December 10, 2016

the Limits of Tolerance

In the politically correct environment of modern liberalism we seem increasingly to be forced to choose between truth and tolerance, which has resulted in an unwelcome identity crisis on all sides. Can each of us continue to stand by some ultimate truth that we have always believed in, or do we now have to choose to honor the truths of other contrasting points of view at the expense of perhaps compromising our own time-honored convictions? The question has become one of how can the individual maintain a clearly delineated identity in a pluralistic world that she/he has now been forced to accommodate. When the tribe was provincial and homogeneous, there was only the rare opportunity for the expression of cultural tolerance upon the visit of some outsider. With the cultural diversity that has resulted from the recent liberal push for globalism, we now live in a world of outsiders with increasingly blurred lines between what used to be clearly either us or them.

It is a very difficult balance indeed - between maintaining a deep commitment to traditional beliefs on the one hand and tolerance and respect for other traditions on the other. Pluralism is a fine objective, aiming to make us all members of one happy world community. In practice, however, pluralism seems to be practiced more as relativism. My openness to people of different convictions or faiths might be just my opinion, as opposed to your opinion. But there are some things that don't stand the test of relativism. There are some things that are right; some things are wrong. There are some things that are true; some that are without question false. Some things are not merely a matter of opinion. Yet we are expected to maintain a certain largeness of societal vision and sense of mutual need to work with people who disagree with us profoundly. It is a balance that is hard in theory and even harder in practice, perhaps impossible in certain instances.

Sharia law allows for the brutal beating, torture, and killing of women, girls, and female fetuses under strict patriarchal religious standards. This seems intolerable under any ethical civilizational model. Not just my opinion. This is wrong and should not be tolerated by any society. Despite the rich tradition of Islam I find many of its beliefs to be intolerably incompatible with Western societal Judeo-Christian views, even those of more tolerant secular humanism, and sense that never will the two traditions coexist peacefully as one community. In my opinion, the world is not yet ready to blend us and them into one happy family. The divisiveness of diverse righteous religions may always stand in the way of progress toward the spiritual evolution of society at large until we can grow past this divisiveness and dance under one banner of ecumenical understanding. Perhaps all the children of Abraham will one day sit around the same table to feast in peace, but we are no where near that level of tolerance in the world today. 

I shall continue to hold self-evident truth above the conventional push for tolerance.


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