Friday, 10 January 2014

The Trouble with Tolerance

There are two definitions to the term "tolerance".

First, it could mean the ability to tolerate an issue.....regarding the existence of an opinion or attitude or practice.....that a person doesn't agree with.  In other words, after a long line of behavior modification.....you get to some point where you can accept some things happening but generally don't like and probably don't support it.

Second?  It's a machinist-type definition.....simply an allowable extent or load.....that falls within a noted quantity in a machine-produced product.  You built something to handle 2,144 pounds of weight....as long as it does not climb above that number....you are safe.  If it does climb beyond that.....you are screwed.

I'm fifty-five and have come to realize this myth of teaching or inflicting tolerance onto people.  In 1977 when I entered the Air Force.....there were at least a dozen hours of tolerance training mandated in basic training.  Some of it circled around "I'm Ok, you're Ok", and the rest around racism.

The concept is simple.  Someone works on your behavior.  They want you to generally accept A, B, and C.  It's a word game for the most part.  They start with the idea of social change, and that your peers are all doing it.  You need to realize this change, and flow with the crowd.  By the end of basic training....most everyone is geared to just accept things but be mostly still the same person.  This means that racist folks are mostly taught to hide their racism, pretend things are fine, and just keep your mouth shut.

Life in the Air Force is simple from that day on.  Everyone quietly has an opinion and rarely shares those extreme thoughts.  If you do accidentally share those thoughts....they send you back for more tolerance training.  They reinforced it by inserting tolerance training into each base-to-base transfer.  So after a while, most all folks were capable of conducting themselves in a clean and proper work atmosphere.

Well....yeah.....we had just as many racists in the Air Force in 1998, as we had in 1977 when I joined....but they were simply trained to quietly act professional and just avoid talking on this subject.

As you progress in life....you tend to notice this tolerance training scheme at work in the university system, newspapers, political world, and the nightly news.  Folks want to share their tolerance prospectives and get you to accept more and more things onto the plate.  Truthfully?  You aren't really changing much of your prospective.  You simple will see something of a disagreeable nature, and just avoid talking about it.

It was generally a pretty good trend of sorts....up until the last ten years.  On some different levels....I think tolerance has hit absolute maximum and there's some push-back now.  Folks tend to ask questions.  The naive nature of tolerance has some limits.  Once a person starts to publicly deny tolerance training, or stop accepting the believed nature of peer pressure....it's a stalled game.

The funny side to tolerance training....is that if you walked up and conveyed to an atheist that he needs to accept Christian people as 'no issue'....he's liable to say no.  If you walked up to an abortion supporter and said they need to accept the argument of the anti-abortion crowd.....he will say no.  If you sat down with some anti-capitalist folks, and suggested that they needed to accept capitalism to some degree....they'd definitely say no.  Once you realize this....then the game of tolerance is over.

Recently, folks have gotten into the topic of the Washington Redskins football team.  They say it's very racist in nature, and you are very intolerant if you accept them existing with the name.  They'd like for you to develop tolerance skills, and just accept the fact that they are right, and the team must change their name.  The fact that some Indians have stepped up and said it's not racist?  Well, that was kinda unexpected, and the tolerance crowd will have to work on the Indians....getting them to be more tolerant of their own circumstance.  You can sense....this will take a while (maybe an eternity).

Tolerance is a double-edged sword in my book.  You simply are taking a guy....whittling away on his character enough....to where he just won't say anything but he generally believes in the same stuff.  He's simply learned to keep quiet....to make folks happy.  At some point....he will get unhinged and dump a bunch of truth onto the folks in front of him....and they will react in a intolerant way.

There's an effort in one state of Germany....where the political group in charge of the state....wants a teacher-agenda in the school system where tolerance is taught to grade-school kids....over lesbians, gays, transgender, and transexual folks.  They thought that everyone in the state was prepared to accept this agenda.

They kinda guessed wrong, with widespread reactions and some political intimidation going on.  Elections are fifteen months away, and this fear of pay-back by the public is scaring some political figures who signed up for the tolerance lessons.

Would German kids accept tolerance training?  If it's more of a intellectual crowd where they could be flipped into believing all their peers have signed up....then it's a pretty simple deal.  But in a crowd of working-class kids (not bound for the university system)?  They will challenge this and turn the tolerance class into a comedy of perverse word games.  Acceptance of tolerance?  No....it'd be more of a class anarchist lesson.

I've become tolerant in nature.  Some things I will simply see and accept, with a little light bulb that pops up in my mind but I know I can see things and just quietly accept them.  It's like walking into an airport terminal and noting three guys in Arab attire with suspicious looks, and I'll just pretend they aren't Jihad-Johnny type characters.  Or I'll be entering a train station and note two or three dopers in one corner....prepared to sell the hard stuff to you, and I won't whoomp on them.  Or the rental car place only has three cars left, and they are all Chrysler vehicles.....and I'll just accept one of them as my lousy choice of a driving vehicle.

You see.....I've become tolerant on fifteen thousand possibilities.

I can sit and watch CNN, even though I regard it as the collection of two-star journalists.  I can briefly sit in a church audience and receive some minister's message....even though I question the vast amount of the message (I am not my 'Brother's Keeper', nor do I pretend to agree with the logic).  I will try hard to watch a baseball game.....but deep inside....I'm boiling over with the whole steroid era and the fake statistics created by Barry Bonds.

More tolerance training for me?  No, I've probably reached maximum capacity.  I've reached the point where I'm mostly intolerant about tolerance.  Peer pressure won't help.  Professional tolerance instructors won't help.  And even Doctor Phil's tolerance episodes won't help.

Did Jesus have that an unlimited amount of tolerance?  No.  At some point, he kinda dumped his load when the tax collector guys were operating in the temple, and just let loose on them.

So pardon me....if I don't seem to be fully and completely tolerant.

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