Must We Tolerate Intolerance?

A lot of years passed as I developed the strength to both determine and stand up for what I could and would put up with in life.  What is acceptable or unacceptable?  The answers are different for each of us.  Our tolerance levels also vary from person to person.

Some things are simple.  For example, I reached my threshold for people yelling at me.  I decided I didn’t need to take it anymore.  If someone is yelling at me now, it better be to save my life from an oncoming truck… not because they lack the personal control to talk at an acceptable volume level.  Fair.

When we think, feel, speak, or believe differently from someone else, I believe that is fine.  However, we all know people who are not interested in tolerating different perspectives or ideas.  That in and of itself doesn’t make either side more right or wrong.

Where my interest disintegrates is when someone believes they can and should shout down others just to squelch a dissenting thought, voice, or opinion from being heard.  I tune out the screamers and “ranters.”  Their voracious volume levels and rabid rantings do not add validity to their opinions, no matter how frequently they repeat them.

I get into this BIG time in “The Bimbo Has MORE Brains… Surviving Political Correctness.”  I do not believe in suppressing dissenting voices.  I believe in true dialogue, which includes speaking AND listening.  I am grateful for having grown up with parents and educators who believed in us learning all sides of issues.  They taught us how to think, not what to think.  I feel most fortunate for that, among many other blessings.

Saddening, if not maddening is the feeling when I learn of free speech getting squelched purely because someone else values a different philosophy or opinion.  Phooey.  As I state in the book, repressing or shutting down voices we may not care to hear dos not remove the thoughts, feelings, or opinions they wanted to share.

The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, expressed it well.  He said, “The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression.  It is more speech.”

I believe our differences give us balance.  Intolerance of our differences throws us off balance.  To tolerate someone else’s intolerance requires a great deal of patience, confidence, and persistence.  We sometimes need to stop and remember that there just may be a lot of right in what seems wrong and a lot of wrong in what seems right.

Cathy Burnham Martin is an award-winning journalist, published author, creative foodie, and communications geek.  Her books and Audiobooks are available through all major book retailers, Amazon, and Audible.  

About Cathy Burnham Martin

Author of 16 books, and counting! A professional voice-over artist and lifelong corporate communications geek, Cathy Burnham Martin has enjoyed a highly eclectic career, ranging from the arts and journalism to finance, telecommunications, and publishing. Along with her husband, Ron Martin, she has passions for entertaining, gardening, volunteering, active and visual arts, GREAT food, and traveling. Cathy often says, "I believe that we all should live with as much contagious enthusiasm as possible... Whether we're with friends or family, taking people along for the ride is more than half the fun."
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