(In)tolerance

Maybe it’s just my rosy view of the past, but I seem to remember a world in which there was more tolerance than there is today. Not always acceptance, but tolerance.

People will always have differences of opinion. A natural product of free expression is that we hear opinions we don’t agree with. A cornerstone of a stable society is the ability to disagree without the need to eliminate opposition. I had thought that the desire to destroy those who differ was largely restricted to those messy uncivilized third world countries. I had thought that as the world became “smaller”, civilization would be the driving force. Not the only time I’ve been wrong.

I can recall heated discussions at parties that my parents held. I also remember the same guests being invited to following parties. It was possible, perhaps even preferable, to have differences of opinion, it kept the conversation “lively”. People were not considered inferior due to their differences, and “preaching to the choir” was considered boring. This was a predominantly conservative crowd, yet I was still under the impression that the “liberals” were more tolerant. It was part of the “rules”, conservatives were rigid, liberals were flexible.

So we moved from our conservative enclave to the bay area, just in time for the “Summer of Love”. We were a tourist destination as our friends would visit just for the tour of “Haight Ashbury“, I felt a connection to the philosophy of the hippies, I believed they had discovered what I thought America was all about. I do my thing, you do yours. Years later I was saddened by the decay of that philosophy as I watched cut throat capitalists selling tie dye souvenirs. They were doing their thing, pretending to be doing mine, and making a profit.

I found myself increasing isolated. Most of my views were based in conservatism, but my lifestyle was more liberal. At first, I thought I was demonstrating how the two “sides” were not mutually exclusive, the things accepted by liberals could be tolerated by conservatives. The exclusiveness came from an unexpected direction. My liberal friends couldn’t tolerate my conservative friends. Things got worse.

The “revolutions” of the 60s and 70s created revolutionaries. Unfortunately, once the revolution was over, the revolutionaries still needed a fight. Race relations improved immensely in America for a decade or so, but I would argue that today things are worse than they were in the mid 60s, and in some ways as bad as the 50s. One (black) friend relates that his family despises Bill Cosby, because they believe that his portrayal of the Huxtable family was unattainable, propaganda by an Uncle Tom.  The sexual revolution became the war between the sexes. Anything denied to a woman was evidence of the “War on Women“, even when it had nothing to do with sex. Great advances in equality were followed by hatred rather than grace. While gay rights made strides, anti gay groups became more vocal, and violent. Gay rights groups refuse to accept anything less than equal verbiage, “Marriage”, a religious term adopted by the state, must be what unions between couples are called. Even in European countries that allow gay unions, the official documents are referred to as Civil Unions. Everyone calls them “marriages”, but that’s not good enough in America. “Justice” became “getting even”, beginning with affirmative action, followed by “reparations“.

We not only stopped accepting, we stopped tolerating. When the Taliban destroyed the statues of Buddha in Afghanistan, tolerance died. I do not entirely blame the Muslim influence, but I do believe that they have turned the level of intolerance to eleven. With help from the news media, the existence of tolerance has been eliminated in the minds of the general public. With the advent of twenty four hour news stations, “fair and balanced” became a joke. Each outlet has it’s own views, preaching to its own choir. The only balance is when you split screen two opposite viewpoints. We call people of different viewpoints “sheeple”, as if “we” are somehow different. We used to believe that a person was innocent until proven guilty, now once a suspect is announced lynch mobs appear.

Politics have become downright ugly. Political figures are hated, decades after they leave office. There is no reflection or redemption. Despite Margaret Thatcher’s achievements, she was largely hated upon her death, some twenty five years after leaving office. “Ding Dong the witch is dead” hit number one on the BBC. Five years after leaving office, Dick Cheney is the first person to come to some peoples’ minds when asked “You know what I hate?” during a conversation that has nothing to do with politics. Move on became a mantra for people who refuse to move on. Claims against President Obama stay alive years after they become moot, and really, in a country that allegedly separates politics and religion, who cares if he is a Muslim or Mitt Romney a Mormon?

Not to be left out, the scientific community, after centuries of distancing itself from public opinion, becomes embroiled in the “Climate Change” debate. I was disappointed enough when I heard that the Space Shuttle was “too complex” to be built today, the scientific community acknowledging we are not as intelligent and creative as we were in the 70s, but the abandonment of the scientific method in favor of popular consensus is truly disheartening. I feel like Galileo facing the Pope.

This is not the world I want to live in. One in which “disagree” means “hate”, “disagree with a person of another race” means “racist”, “tolerance” means “I tolerate those who agree with me”. I’m well aware that I’m a dreamer, but I cannot be the only one. Our level of understanding one another is supposed to be increasing, not decreasing. We can’t get there without talking.

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12 comments on “(In)tolerance

  1. atiernanbrown says:

    I can’t believe how well you have captured the thoughts I’ve been expressing across the kitchen table to my husband over the past few years. More artful words were used in your piece of course, but the sentiment is perfectly and sadly aligned with mine.

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  2. I think the biggest reason is income disparity in America, the continuing upsurge in random gun violence is nothing surprising if you consider that America is increasingly becoming ‘ghettoized’.

    Increasingly young white males are facing a future that is no more promising than that of a young black male half a century ago.

    Partisan politics play a very big role in this dynamic, and sadly, the hyperbolic criticisms of both sides are now, today, completely accurate.

    America needs to get humble, we have over-leveraged our egos in both the private and public spheres, and their, frankly, isn’t enough money to pay for it all anymore.

    But first of all the person who pays for that risk is the person who took it, not the traditional American worker.

    I fear a role also for spoiled white female professionalism. Although I am a 100% supporter of a woman’s right to work, white women were not ‘oppressed’ in any sort of meaningful fashion and the conflation of minority oppression, of **both sexes**, unto white women is nothing more that using the cycle of abuse as tool for professional advantage.

    Though women are better large company employees than men I do fear that the rampage of PC politics for career advancement is destroying the effectiveness of an already over extended corporate economic model. There is circumstantial evidence to indicate this.

    Lastly, the reactions of the Republican Party to business competition coming from the Left including Bush era responses to the increasing rise of home ownership and the success of leftie, ‘green’ construction firms makes that party the corporatist equivalent of communism on many, many measures.

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    • kblakecash says:

      Douglas, I don’t quite follow the last paragraph. Are you suggesting the Republican party is equivalent in some way to Communism?

      I was under the impression that the rise in home ownership was due to (Democratic) influences on the home loan industry, causing unqualified purchases that were doomed to failure. Much like the current Student Loan debacle, in which unrealistic expectations of income have caused a surge in loan defaults. I received a petition the other day to make student loans payments equal to 10% of the borrowers income after graduation for ten years, after which any remaining balance would be forgiven. As you say, the person taking the risk (in this case the student) needs to pay for it, not the American taxpayer. Something in there sounds like Communism, or Socialism, I can’t keep the definitions straight anymore.

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      • Consider the measure of authoritarianism, in this regard corporate America is every bit the monolith that the Soviet Union was. Much of this has to do with the role of the necessarily hierarchical military and their former officers – whom engaged in soviet style economic planning during WW2. Consider the iconic warning of Eisenhower regarding the Military Industrial Complex (or delusional conspiracy for Empire), a warning that his VP, Richard Nixon, would have been better off to have heeded.

        I vehemently disagree with your assertion about first time home buyers. More to the problem is the person in the over 500K range who definitely did exceed their means, but those individuals are not nearly so likely to pay the cost of homelessness, etc. either. You ignore my other facts in your response, and let me add one more to that list, the fucking around the felonious ‘business’ conspirators of Bush did upon the post Clinton incomes of those first time homebuyers.

        There is a general point here that also applies to the Student Loan question, the ‘business’ decisions of those just starting out. I personally, vehemently, believe that it is in the interest of all business people to see that everyone has a stake in the game, not defraud them with legalese and other misrepresentations….

        The question for you is whether, when faced with these facts you take responsibility or, like most of your apparent brethren, believe your mistakes are all of us minions fault…

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  3. kblakecash says:

    Douglas,

    Apparently WordPress doesn’t allow for a reply to a reply to a reply to a reply,

    I often reflect on the foresight of Eisenhower. What a surprise he was. I agree with your point that the wealthy, while having more to lose financially, also have the resources to recover from homelessness. I did not ignore your other points, I agreed and felt no need to comment.

    I also agree that business is more profitable for all when social responsibility, what my generation called “morality” is applied to business practices. Much has gone off track, I see the origins in Disco, when “free love” was perverted into “frequent sex”, society has been on a downward slope ever since.

    Whatever would make you think that I see myself as having minions? I’m just an aging hippie who has had an incredible ride. I’ve spent the majority of my life just under the radar.

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  4. Your point of view doesn’t seem to me to be either ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’- which makes it ‘logical’- something that humans are sorely lacking these days. Well put.

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  5. So, I’ve just read the above exchange between you and Mr. Tooley, and would like some clarification (w/o all the hyperbole please).

    You assert (if I’m understanding this) that there is less tolerance today (and thus, little, if no acceptance) of other’s opinions because people with new ideas (some even from the past) have not felt ‘heard’, and as such, have become frustrated and consequently more aggressive, which naturally closes them off to new ideas, which in fact, they were, at one time, the poster children for. A vicious cycle- which you put into words, logically, which only goes to prove that aging hippies are still relevant.

    Mr. Tooley retorts by basically blaming his lack of advantage (or maybe the weight of his middle management job) on a love child, called Corporate America , that is the blonde offspring of a very secret affair between Communism and Capitalism.

    Who’s the ‘crazy’ now?

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    • kblakecash says:

      Cheryl,

      That appears to be an accurate analysis of my point of view, I’m not certain if the rationale is not being heard or of having more to say than the “movement” was trying to get across. Much the same thing on an individual basis. I appreciate your validation of my relevance.

      I can’t speak for Mr. Tooley, but I’m interested in your description of the love child as “blonde”.

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  6. So funny. Blonde jokes are always good. Of course I can feel that way because I’m a brunette.

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  7. […] The way it gets to me is not on a personal level. I know better than to take the words of someone who won’t identify themselves seriously. It is the confirmation of the stupidity of the masses, combined with the indications we are rapidly declining into mob rule. […]

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