In this new progressive age in which we are living we are constantly lectured to by our leftist brothers and sisters about the absolute need for showing tolerance within our American society today. Indeed, the necessity of practicing tolerance is preached from all levels of government, schools, social organizations, charities, and even some churches. If one were to watch television for any prolonged sitting, it is a good bet that one would see a public service announcement stressing the need that we all act with tolerance towards one another. Indeed, “tolerance” has been elevated to a virtuous level, or so it would seem.
Now I understand the often altruistic intentions of many of those good folks that are decrying the need for tolerance in our society today, but unfortunately rather than improving society through our more tolerant actions, we seem to be debasing it often times and excusing actions and behaviors that used to be considered harmful, wrong, or sinful as just being part of the norm of everyday life now. This sort of tolerance has defined deviancy down to the lowest common denominator often times.
Archbishop Charles Chaput formerly of the Denver Catholic Archdiocese and now of the Philadelphia Archdiocese is a brilliantly moral Christian man. He also has a few critics because he is not one to bend Christian Catholic orthodoxy or doctrine, even if he were canonically allowed to do so, simply in appeasement to our new age demands to show greater “tolerance”. Indeed Archbishop Chaput recently made a comment regarding this “tolerance trend” and put the non-virtue of tolerance into its proper perspective. He stated,
“We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue. Charity, justice, mercy, prudence, honesty -- these are Christian virtues. And obviously, in a diverse community, tolerance is an important working principle. But it's never an end itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of serious evil.”
What makes something a virtue? Well, a virtue is something that when exercised is always for the truth and the doing of good. Tolerance will sometimes fail to live up to that definition of virtuous behavior, if the very nature of something that is being tolerated is immoral or evil.
Indeed, as a nation America has tolerated some great evils in its past regarding slavery and many of the actions towards our native American brothers and sisters, as some examples. One can make the claim that many German citizens tolerated the initial abuses, for whatever myriads of reasons, in the rise of the Nazi Party and their systematic killing of the Jews. Tolerance is not a virtue when the behavior one is tolerating is abhorrent, sinful, or evil.
The unfortunate irony of this call to tolerance is that often times those sometimes well-meaning folks espousing this pseudo-virtue are often the same ones showing a decided lack of tolerance towards those that disagree with their ideals or political agenda. Indeed, one need only read the newspaper or turn on the nightly news to see myriads of examples of this intolerance coming from those that preach tolerance.
Often times our progressive friends will show contempt or disdain (certainly not tolerance) towards us conservatives and libertarians if we dare offer a contrary viewpoint on the veracity of anthropogenic global warming, gays in the military (or any LGBT issue), abortion, Christianity, radical Islam, evolution, just war, or government-compulsory wealth redistribution. When it comes to many of these issues, to the typical progressive, their viewpoint is the “righteous” or humanistically moral one in their eyes, and thus they have no tolerance for those that would have the temerity to offer a differing opinion on the given subject at hand. They are the moral, enlightened, and tolerant ones, you see.
So what then is the point of progressives espousing the need for all to be tolerant, even though they do not always practice what they are preaching? Is it possible that there is something more behind this call for tolerance than simply a misguided altruistic attempt to get everyone to simply get along? I am certain that many very good people have no other agenda than simply that aforementioned goal. Unfortunately, I am also fairly certain that a not insignificant percentage of those tolerance-espousers are also trying to promulgate a more “tolerant society” that is in lock step with their political or world views. In other words, they have an agenda.
This societal peer-pressured type of tolerance is seemingly being used more often as a form of control and censorship by the left in order to normalize what used to be unacceptable behaviors or ideals that were antithetical to American life. The battle cry of “tolerance” thus becomes just another Saul Alinsky type of tool used to cow the timid conservative or the introverted libertarian into accepting what our western culture used to define as wrong, immoral, and in some cases just plain evil.
It is my belief that we should all indeed strive to get along and love one another as we love ourselves, because every last one of us is indeed a sinner. That said, when tolerance becomes a code word for cowing those from speaking out against what they know to be wrong simply to get along, our society will only continue to further slouch towards Gomorrah.