Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's Not About Tolerance.

This was a productive week for me in terms of writing.  I was able to latch on to a few ideas and make them stick long enough for me to actually crank out some readable things.  I'm kind of proud of that.  No, I am proud of that. 

Of course, I'm falling into the trap, now, of wondering if what I have to say is really all that worth while anyway.  It's the thing about how the population divides into those people who question themselves and those who do not.  I am one who does. 

What right do I have to voice my opinion about, well, anything, since I'm not really an expert in the things that I write about?  Even the things I am really good at, I hesitate to call myself an expert or to give anything other than gentle advice. 

That's a paradox, too.  I know that when I've had departments or people to manage, I'm quite all right with telling them exactly what I want done and how I want it done.  But I tire of that.  If I wanted to do the job myself, I would have taken the job.  I have minions because I *don't* want to do the job myself.  I prefer the method of giving people the tools they need to be successful, point them in the right direction, and let them figure it out for themselves.

Yes, that's in contradiction with a lot of my opinions about the role of government in our daily lives.  No, the government should not be micromanaging us and telling us individually what we should and should not be doing.  My support for things like Universal Health Care is based on the role government can take on as the tool to combine individual risk and provide societal reward.

But, I do not want to digress into that.

I tire of the discussions on the web site comments sections.  Regardless of the actual content of the article or editorial, the same people read into it what they wish and quickly drive the conversation into the same ditches.  It's remarkable to me how quickly the comment discussion diverges from the points being made in the original post.

Of course, a lot of the original posts, especially the editorials written by the readers, are ill conceived and poorly written anyway.  They leave way too much room for interpretation into their amateurish ambiguity, and as such are quickly overrun by the trolls.

And I do not want to let myself get into that trap.  What do I know, really? 

I have to remind myself that the value is in the discussion itself.  Nothing that I say, or that anyone else says, is fixed, concrete, immutable.  There is no Categorical Imperative or Metaphysical Certitude about anything.  And I'm OK with that point of view.  Many of the trolls are not.  They seek Certitude and find it for themselves in their Religion.  Note that I am not using the word Faith for that.

The trolls use Religion to justify their own belief system.  They will tell you it's the other way around, and maybe it is.  But it is my own belief that those who are close minded about anything are those who have never had to confront a crisis in their own lives in some way.

Now, that doesn't make sense.  Let me try that again.

It's easy for people to listen to someone else and say, "Yes, I agree with that."  It's not easy for people to say "This is what I believe" when asked.  Repeated instruction and rote learning make most people comfortable with "knowing" whatever it is that it being taught to them.  Live in a world of black and white, and the idea of colors doesn't even make sense, doesn't even come to mind.  Live in a world where a particular expression of human nature is defined as anathema, and the idea that it is part of the human experience is unconscionable. 

A new thread appeared in some of the recent discussions: tolerance of intolerance.  I dislike the word "tolerance" for a lot of reasons.  I tolerate a lot of things, but that doesn't mean I like them.  It also implies that I would actively change it if I could.  It's an implied acquiescence and that is distasteful to me.  I tolerated a President with whom I disagreed on just about everything.  As such, I took action in response to that.

It's not about Tolerance.  It's about Understanding, Comprehension, and Acceptance.

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