The Daily Post would like me to add on to the list of the 7 Deadly Sins — another trait or behaviour I find particularly unacceptable.
I initially deliberated between ‘ignorance’ and ‘bigotry’. Then I realised that ignorance doesn’t irrevocably carry a negative connotation – it might even be blissful in certain circumstances. And while I find bigotry to be entirely reprehensible, I wouldn’t want to impinge on the notion of one’s prerogative – you have the right to your opinion, no matter how ludicrous I find it to be. So, I settled for the bare minimum: ‘intolerance’.
What do I mean by bare minimum?
Essentially, you can be a bigot and be tolerant at the same time. I suppose you could refuse to accept alternative viewpoints without superimposing your beliefs unto others. Peaceful –yet divided– coexistence.
But this is not always the case, is it? More often than not, people tend to place their beliefs in higher regard than others’. They find it so hard to allow themselves to be educated or even try to understand where others are coming from. They are so entrenched in their pre-conceived notions that they treat every discourse like a zero-sum game and get rather confrontational about it. Apparently, the very notion of contrary beliefs will undoubtedly obliterate their own and thus question the very reason for their existence. I might be exaggerating, but you get the idea.
Allow me to share an anecdote about intolerance that has stuck with me over the years.
I recall sitting through a sermon by my then-pastor. Throughout the entire service, he only had one message to preach – Catholicism is wrong. I was fifteen (or was it sixteen) and incensed. I wasn’t really listening to the crap that he was spewing, but it had to do with his interpretation of the role of Mother Mary and why it was wrong to worship her as a deity. I was sickened by the ensuing calls of ‘Amen’ and nods. I kept my trap shut, and left the church – never to return again. To my knowledge, that was my last ever service.
The problem I had with my pastor, wasn’t for his belief. I respected his convictions. But I couldn’t stand for him to disparage an entire religious faith in front of such a large audience; especially given his social standing and influence. What kind of message is that sending to the young minds? Are they now supposed to question the beliefs of their Catholic friends? He had sown the seeds of intolerance. Could that, as a result, propagate prejudice?
Perhaps ‘acceptance’ is a lofty ideal for mankind. It seems implausible to rid the world of hate, ignorance or prejudice. Some may even bravely rationalise this with human nature – which I am inclined to believe. Even when people aren’t outrightly awful, we can never truly see the monsters hiding under their beds.
For now though, it is my dream for the world to –at the very least– live and let live.