Tolerance Is A Two-Edged Sword



The truth is never out of date, and no one should be afraid of the truth. But if there is no such thing, then everyone needs to be afraid, for one person's truth today can be nullified by someone else's truth tomorrow.

In an age of no moral absolutes the ethics on which this country was founded continue to be seriously eroded everyone's "truth" is as valid as every other person's unless you disagree with the prevailing trend.

The issue then is no longer the truth of the message, but the right to proclaim it. An unpopular message can be labeled intolerant and therefore be repressed. But are we not justifiably intolerant of rapists, child and spousal abusers, etc.?

Tolerance has become the cardinal virtue, the sole absolute of our society. Verbal engineering always precedes social engineering and words are changed to mean something different than originally intended. The word liberal has an entirely different meaning now than in ages past. So, too, with the word tolerance.

The scholastic definition of toleration is: "Toleratio est permissio negativa mali." Literally, it means that tolerance is a negative permission of evil, a patient forbearance in the face of evil, either real or imaginary.

Another definition means simply to recognize the right of someone to have beliefs, practices, etc., different from one's own without necessarily agreeing or sympathizing with them.

Part of the human condition is that people are sometimes intolerant of others who do not agree with them. Will our freedom to disagree with another person be taken away? It is happening now as a popular radio personality meets opposition, even death threats under investigation by the FBI, as that person voices opposition to a particular agenda.

A tyrant of World War II once said that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. Two thousand years ago a Jewish teacher said that the truth will set you free. After the attack on a Jewish community center in Granada Hills, Calif. last year, another Jewish teacher in Los Angeles said that if we continue to teach about tolerance and intolerance instead of good and evil we will end up with tolerance of evil.

Tolerance, therefore, is a two-edged sword. It can be used to teach good or to condone evil.

A one-size-fits-all mentality does not work long in a society such as ours or have Orwell's Thought Police finally arrived at our doors?

Anne Murray, Payson

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