As stated in the preceding post, we have taken upon ourselves the exercise of a felt responsibility to closely analyze and evaluate, frequently used, but possibly misapprehended, words. In post 270, we sought to resurrect the downplayed and unappreciated noun “repetition” and its adjectival cousin, “repetitive”; the latter customarily summoning up the image of an unprepared, or boring speaker, but in contrast, representing a universal, vital, even existential, phenomenon. As stated, the inspiration for the previous post, having been the experience of being at the seaside and again observing the reiterative movement of the ocean.
In the present note, in keeping with our chosen responsibility, we seek to explore and closely analyze the popularly used, and much lauded, word “tolerance.” The innocent and well -intended perception the word, ordinarily signifies the commendable quality of understanding and even- handed attitude towards “others”. For this reason, prior to the expression of our unorthodox remarks regarding such popularly laudable term, we would ask the reader to kindly withhold his reaction to what may be perceived as an injudicious or unorthodox evaluation of the word.
To get immediately to the point, we feel that the only word in the American-English lexicon worse than the word, “tolerant,” is the word, “intolerant.”
A summary consensus of consulted sources, describes the meaning of “tolerant,” as amounting to the fair, objective and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, race*and ethnos are different from one’s own. Sounds acceptable, but it is not nearly acceptable enough.
We most strenuously object to the use of the language which signifies forbearance, and the unabashed presumption expressed the basic concept. A necessary corollary to the definition (and use) of the word, is the implied assumption, that such a “tolerant” person has the (social or political) standing, or implicit authority, to discretionarily grant or withhold, such permission or forbearance, but, in fact, refrains from denial of such grace because he is virtuous. At the very best, it can have a modicum of value if seen as a preliminary step toward the goal, which is acceptance, albeit clumsy and presumptuous.
The word encompasses unjustified and undeserved self-praise, earned by such forbearance; it is inarguably arrogant, unattractively self-satisfying and clearly bigoted. Put in simple terms. The word is understood to denote right thinking but does not. We may well need another vocabulary word.
There are no set standards for being or thinking, and no existing authority for their creation; therefore, there is no “other way.” Such a conception is at best, ignorant and ethnocentric, at worst, prejudiced. The term “tolerant” which necessarily encompasses the award or personal impression of self-praise for the withholding of action or criticism is arrogant and hubris, and amounts to implicit prejudice; in fact, it is worse than the despicable word “bigot,” which, at least, carries no undeserved illusion of self-praise.
The rational and hopefully attainable goal, is universal sincere and unhesitating mutual acceptance, if not firm friendship. Until the arrival of that remarkable day in the march towards mankind’s moral evolution, it would seem appropriate to extol those who practice right thinking, above those who exult in repressed bigotry.
*We have excised the word “race” from the plinyblog vocabulary; it is scientifically flawed, and is consistently used for unacceptable purposes.