The 8th Cardinal Sin: Intolerance

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?


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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.

 

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6 thoughts on “The 8th Cardinal Sin: Intolerance

  1. You know my favorite part about your choice? It’s new. Some other responses to this basically repackaged something old — called the 8th sin “ego,” and went on to describe pretty much everything about pride, for example. Intolerance could probably fit under pride, too, but your specific description brings up ideas that don’t immediately come to mind when I think of pride. You make a great point — it’s one thing to be a bigot, but an even worse thing to spew your bigotry all over the place.

    Out of curiosity, what was the denomination of your pastor who denounced Catholicism? I find it interesting that he criticized Catholicism’s worship of Mary as a deity when, in fact, it doesn’t. At all. Ignorance is another interesting part about intolerance. Most of the time, the things intolerant people hate most about other people aren’t even true.

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    • Thank you, Maria! The pastor was protestant. Yes, you’re right about the role ignorance plays in intolerance. It’s worse when these ignoramuses abstain from any form of education on that matter.

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