Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Truth About Tolerance (Part 1)

Leftist secular liberalism has twisted the right and responsible apprehension and application of true tolerance. The type of tolerance that is being inflicted upon America today is, unfortunately, a one-way street. I would even label it as a "one-say street" of dialogue. Step out of line from liberalism's view of "tolerance" and you are unfairly labeled with derogatory words that certainly reveal the Lefts intolerance toward traditional moral convictions. This is especially true when such convictions are grounded in religious viewpoints. Such viewpoints are, ironically, imperiled by what passes for tolerance today.

If you really want to see how abused and misunderstood the concept of tolerance is today, then I recommend reading The Truth About Tolerance: Pluralism, Diversity and the Culture Wars, by Brad Stetson and Joseph G. Conti.

The book goes into much detail in what the authors call the "flash points in the development of tolerance." Through part one of the book, we learn the essential points, ideas and events that have significantly contributed to the development of tolerance as it has evolved in Western society. Next, the book goes on to describe an ensemble of principles, habits, laws and institutions that advance true toleration, a virtue essential to any just and free society.

The current culture's misuse of tolerance is absolutely mind boggling and astounding! When one examines the true meaning of tolerance, and how it has been hijacked by the secular left in America, we then can see so clearly how our current "clash of cultural difference" has come about and why the dangerous direction that such softheadedness (a title given by J. Budziszewski in his book "The Revenge of Conscience") that people profess as "tolerance" is not really genuine tolerance at all. In fact, it is much more like tyranny due to its own excess of licientiousness and deficit of morality. This will be explained in much more detail in Part 2 of this topic.

The quote by Leo Strauss in the preface of the book summarizes, quite well in fact, the clash going on in America today due to the misuse of the term "tolerance":

Absolute tolerance is altogether impossible; the allegedly absolute tolerance turns into ferocious hatred of those who have stated clearly and most forcefully that there are unchangeable standards founded on the nature of man and the nature of things. - Leo Strauss

I have known for quite some time now that I am certainly not alone in my thinking that something is very wrong with the way many Americans think about tolerance. I have found, numerous times on this blog, that people can't even agree on what the true definition of tolerance really is. What exactly does it mean?

The book points out, and asks, these questions:

1. Does tolerance require the acceptance of all views on a given subject as equally true?

2. Does it mean that I must not believe too strongly that my views are right about a given subject?

3. Can I be tolerant and still believe in objective truth about religion, ethics and politics?

Such questions lead us towards other topics, such as the nature of truth, the nature of human beings and the possibility of moral knowledge.

I appreciate the fact that the book approaches this topic in the worldview context of evangelical Christianity. It presents an overview of the intersection of truth and tolerance in American social life today.

In a previous post, I mentioned this book and shared a quote which expresses that the "new tolerance" is an impostor (a.k.a. "pseudo-tolerance).

R. Douglas Geivett, Professor of Philosophy, Biola University writes:

"We aren't as tolerant as we think we are - and genuine tolerance will emerge only when we no longer tolerate our many forms of pseudo-tolerance. Stetson and Conti demonstrate the need for a new culture of tolerance, where virtue governs our disagreements about the things that matter most. They've produced an astute commentary on contemporary culture, a rousing admonition to witness to truth with humility and respect, and an inspiring set of principles to guide the way."

Between Two Worlds sums it up this way:

Stetson and Conti critique both soft-headed hyper tolerance (tolerating what ought not be tolerated) and narrow-minded intolerance (failing to be tolerant when we should). Instead, they argue for critical tolerance (which returns to the historic, classical understanding of the concept which contains two poles: both allowance and critique).

The list of ten truths of tolerance are:

1. Tolerance, rightly understood, is a patience toward a practice or opinion one disapproves of.

2. The practice of tolerance must have limits.

3. Tolerance allows for prudent moral criticism and strongly held individual belief.

4. There are important distinctions to be made within the concept of intolerance and between the concepts of intolerance and non tolerance.

5. Tolerance is a moral tool that allows for the construction and maintenance of civic order.

6. Tolerance is rightly applied only to people’s conduct and expressions of opinion.

7. Tolerance is inconsistent with philosophical indifference.

8. Tolerance is consistent with a strong confidence in the truthfulness of one’s own beliefs and experience.

9. Since tolerance is inevitably connected with disagreement and moral evaluation, it helpfully compels us toward a philosophical confrontation with competing and irreconcilable perspectives about the good.

10. We should always be conscious of the various contexts in which tolerance is exercised.

That list, alone, gives us instruction that shows how the meaning of tolerance has been so drastically skewed by the liberal left in this country!

The study of tolerance needs to be prefaced by a discussion about truth. Chapter five of the book can does just that and can be read here: The Truth About Truth (chapter 5).

In Part 2, it will be my goal to go into more descriptive detail on some of the "Ten Truths about Tolerance" (listed above).

Perhaps readers would like to cite their own experiences and examples pertaining to each point. Please feel free to do so in the comment section.


The Truth About Tolerance: Pluralism, Diversity, and the Culture Wars

Between Two Worlds

No comments: