What is tolerance?

Friday, June 13, 2008

I heard in one of Carson's sessions the topic of tolerance*. He brought up a very interesting point where he felt that our contemporary understanding of tolerance has gone wayward.

If you think about it, isn't it logical that one can only be considered tolerant when - not only does one not agree with another, differing views are laid out full view of each other but tolerated with grace and aplomb.

That in my opinion is tolerance.

Accepting another person's differing views even though it goes against one's beliefs or principles for the sake of giving way is not tolerance. It is but syncretism, a fusion of differing beliefs - something that is impossible.

This came up because I was in the midst of helping Calvin with his homework when he was required to decide if the result of tolerance was that the "opinions of others are easily refuted".

I felt that it was my duty as a parent to explain what real tolerance is, which I did. But I also added that if he goes according to my explanation he will definitely be considered wrong in class.

What Calvin did was quite surprising. He actually asked me to explain both sides again, and proceeded to make his own mind. I checked his homework later and discovered that he had placed the "opinions of others are easily refuted" under the result of tolerance.

I shall not say that it is entirely correct because the idea or concept behind that phrase is just not complete. Scanning through the list, I find that the lesson was badly structure to the extreme:

Identify in the following if tolerance is practiced or not during a team-work session:
1. Dissatisfied with the task set

2. Improvements visible in relationship between team members

3. Having the spirit of give and take in the division of tasks

4. Work can be completed speedily

5. The existence of tension and the deterioration of relationship among members

6. Work is slow to complete because of tension

7. Patience if work is not evenly distributed

8. Opinions of others easily refuted


I am alright with taking #2 and 3 as the result of tolerance and #5 and 6 the result of intolerance.

#1, 4 and 7 in my opinion are just irrelevant. More than irrelevant, they must not be tolerated:

1. A dissatisfaction with the task set may be totally valid. What should one do if he is required to kill 10 cats? Be tolerant and do it anyway?

4. Work that is completed in no time could be the result of performance, skill or even with minimum quality. It can be done with or without tolerance.

7. What does the issue of fairness has to do with tolerance? What if it is because you are disliked for whatever reasons and therefore more burdensome work is given to you? What if you voiced out against the organisers because you rightly do not agree with the way they do things and that caused you to be given the dirtiest and most dangerous part of the job? Be tolerant and do it anyway? What if I as an organiser pocket 90% of the funds received but only does 10% of the work? Be tolerant and do your 90% anyway?


This is so wrong and yet they are teaching it in school. Oh dear.

So that leaves us with #8.

8. The way I see it, for example, I can easily refute you if you tell me Jesus was not resurrected. I don't even have to think about it, for I will flatly refuse to agree with you, but I can still tolerate you and be your friend. I will listen to you, talk to you, have a meal with you and help you when you need help but I will never ever agree with you on that score. This is toleration.

Bringing #8 back into context, what if the opinions of others in the team is totally whacked out - say, the leader of the group is an extremist and in his opinion, the best way of doing things is through torture? Tolerate? By no way!

I know I am going to the extreme in taking Calvin's schoolwork but this is serious business - it has to do with the formation of my son's character, and I need to have my say in it as a parent.

pearlie

* Let me know if you need the link to Carson's session. I am not including it now for lack of time - I have to hunt it down amongst the whole lot of downloaded Carson mp3s I have in my Carson folder.

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1 comment(s)

  1. ...differing views are laid out full view of each other but tolerated with grace

    I agree, that is tolerance.

    Accepting another person's differing views even though it goes against one's beliefs or principles for the sake of giving way is not tolerance. It is but syncretism, a fusion of differing beliefs - something that is impossible.

    If this is done within Christian theology, it can lead to a weakening and even denial of essential aspects of Christian faith and philosophy.

    Russ:)

    ReplyDelete