Tolerance as the mid-point on a continuum: a tool to manage our differences

In the turbulence of a world order where cultures pull in conflicting directions, how does one move ahead? How can democracies, oligarchies/ authoritarian regimes and fascists ever find common ground? The short answer is, ‘one cannot’. To operate under the illusion that one can is dangerous and unsustainable. One cannot, after all, choose one’s neighbours or direct the contemporary happenings set in motion by co-inhabitants of the planet! It is important to remember this fact as we, the human inhabitants of this planet, negotiate to achieve better lives for ourselves. But we live in a world full of problems: social, ecological, economic … So what does one do if one is not the ‘throw-up-one’s hand in despair’ kind, or the ‘don’t-care-a-damn’ kind?

I think a way may be found if we cultivate the tendency to think in terms of possibilities rather than problems. The former helps place options on a continuum while the latter considers choices as opposites. It is easier to glide along a continuum rather than to jump across a divide.

As we negotiate for a more peaceful, more egalitarian world order, it would be worthwhile to not let Tolerance be faced off against Intolerance and Acceptance against Rejection. Rather, Tolerance should be the mid-point on a continuum that has intolerance at one end and acceptance on the other.  All contesting parties/ positions should count their steps towards a minimum of Tolerance first, before attempting to move towards greater agreement or unanimity.


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