Be Intolerant Of Intolerance!

Life lessons from a hypocritical truth

Posted Jan 06, 2015

It’s true. We shouldn’t tolerate intolerance. We should nip it in the bud, set clear boundaries. 

If we tolerate intolerance it spreads: Racism, sexism, prejudices of all sorts, judgmentalism, negativity, bigotry, factions squaring off and fighting: right vs. left, this fundamentalism vs. that.

An eye for an eye just leaves the whole world blind.

To bring about greater harmony we must all of us be tolerant. No exceptions. Loving, listening, caring for each other, respecting each other’s opinions whatever they may be.

We have got to stamp out intolerance.

I hope you hear the hypocrisy, and I hope it also rings true because it is—both sides of it—the need to be tolerant and the need to be intolerant.  

I love two-faced popular words of wisdom. There are lots of them:

Do not be negative (“not” is negative)

You shouldn’t be judgmental (“shouldn’t” is a judgment)

Commit yourself to flexibility

I love them because they’re funny, and it’s fun to watch people utter them with singular earnestness, not noticing that they’re talking out of both sides of their mouths.

I love them also because talking out of both sides of our mouths is actually the truest reflection of the bind we are all in.

Tolerance, love and acceptance are not the answer always. Nor are their opposites: Intolerance, holding high standards, drawing clear boundaries.

When we face the hypocrisy squarely it points us to the truest practical question, not whether to be tolerant or intolerant but when to be which? What to tolerate; what not to tolerate?

Folks who don’t notice the hypocrisy don’t appreciate the bind we’re all in and they cut themselves unconscionable slack. They manage the bind ineptly at best, self-servingly at worst, telling people not to be judgmental when they’re being criticized, and not noticing they’re being judgmental when criticizing others.

Speaking hypocritical truths as though they’re not hypocritical is license to do whatever the hell one wants. If one can’t even see the inconsistency when the words is sitting right next to each other, it means one is willing to define the words any way one wants, most often self-servingly. Thinking you’re being consistent when saying “be intolerant of intolerance,” stunts growth on managing the bind. Those who don’t see the hypocrisy and the bind it implies for us all are the kind who engage in word play to cut themselves slack any time they want:  

I’m not intolerant. I hate intolerance. I’m just speaking my mind.

You’re not expressing your opinion, you’re judging me.

That sort of thing.

I think moral dilemmas are much more fundamental than moral principles. That’s why I love these hypocritical truths. They’re the koans to live by. They keep the dilemmas at the forefront of our minds where we can deal with them as competently as possible.

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