Date: 13 Dec 2008


The Limits of Tolerance

Dr. Babu Suseelan   

Kierkegaard, the existential philosopher, once wrote the story of an absent-minded man so abstracted from his own life that he hardly knows he exists until, one fine morning, he wakes up to find himself dead. This story has a special relevance today; we could wake up one-morning dead, without ever knowing the menacingly urgent problems of Jihadi terrorism, suicide bombing, and subversive activities of the radical Islamic fundamentalists. The very fabric of our value system, freedom, democracy, cultural tradition and pluralism that sustained civilized societies are unraveling quickly, dangerously and perhaps irrevocably. The decayed conditions are accumulating freely in the social systems of democratic societies. Terrorist bombing, beheading, kidnapping, hijacking, and criminal activities of radical Islamic groups permeate every aspects social life. There is public skepticism and cynicism that the leftist intellectuals and liberal academicians have become addicted to the artful charade of pseudo secularism, irrational tolerance and moral agnosticism. Politicians on the left and liberals talk about secularism, tolerance, coexistence, minority rights, and world vision; but do not ask or see the dangers peace loving people face. Current events provide abundant evidence that they are well aware of the scale and magnitude of evil forces that threaten their existence, and they simply choose to evade them.   

The extraordinary preoccupation with tolerance encourages political leaders to peddle self-deception and self-delusion as realistic. The Islamite media, leftist intellectuals and alienated academicians seek refuge in pseudo secularism and irrational tolerance and use institutionalized tolerance as a recipe for moral uncertainty. They peddle tolerance, pseudo secularism and minority rights as labels for political racket, and parade it as a sign of philosophical depth. They use their political power for presenting fraudulent Islamic preachers and jihadi terrorists as a healthy sign of a tolerant, culturally pluralistic society. The concept of tolerance is used to brainwash innocent people to believe that they exist to serve fanatic Muslims.    

The propaganda system promoted by Arab Muslim dictators subordinate or degrade freedom and democracy and is promoting obnoxious ideas. As a result, innocent people adapt to the psychosocial, political environments imposed on them by corrupt political leaders. This kind of unhealthy adaptation often distorts reality and makes it difficult for people to assess dangerous situations. People undergo unhealthy behavioral changes in response to their grossly altered psychosocial environments. There is also an erosion of the public’s social conscience within a macroeconomic society. People become estranged from their life sustaining culture and react cynically. This brings in distorted concepts and unsuitable ideologies that destroy old certainties. It bewilders and makes people anxious and confused. In such a state, rational thoughts and actions are replaced by meaningless slogans. People bring distorted concepts, which obscure basic questions of culture, values and purpose.  They substitute meaningless, abstract, harmful ideas like tolerance, minority rights, world vision, etc for democracy and justice. The ethos and values that connect people together undergo a grotesque distortion. The tolerant peace loving people ultimately loses their purpose, focus and unity. 

The tardy irrational tolerance and denial cloud the real menace threatening freedom and democracy. Irrational tolerance has resulted in the blunting assertive reactions and creative responses to imminent dangers. The Jihadi terrorism that threatens the survival of the nations is ignored or tolerated. People are mired in silence and complacency. Some runaway from the painful reality and substitute unrestrained tolerance as a virtue. Irrational tolerance act as psychic blinders that make the whole aspects of life threatening problem utterly invisible to them. People act like clowns pretending to be happy, tolerant, secular and content as a way of surviving. They hide their true selves, needs and aspirations behind masks. Eventually they become the masks they put on and lose connections with cultural values and social needs. In this strange setting, people lose touch with hard realities, distort the problem they face and turn away from responsibilities. When genuine, tolerant individual organizes to confront the deception, appeasement and power grab of Jihadis, and they are oppressed with malicious propaganda. 

The unrestrained tolerance encourages degeneration and apathy because tolerance in itself does not logically represent a positive virtue. Clear thinking and renewal are possible only when political leaders understand the limits of tolerance. They need to break the wall of denial and irrational tolerance. The first step toward freedom is to free from the closed mindset and not to tolerate intolerance without hesitation or apology. Freedom loving people should not simply choose to evade serious problems in the name of tolerance. Coexistnce, equality and justice are possible only when the majority devotes itself just to challenge the statusquo, disrupting the perils of tolerance and pseudo secularisim. The revival, if it occurs will not come by peddling irrational tolerance, moral neutrality or denial. It will happen when the majority questions the conflict between what they are told and what they see and experience. Unrestrained tolerance is running away from history, running away from truth. Irrational tolerance blinds the issues and encourages degeneration, thought disorder, immorality and social decay. It incapacitates one’s ability to assert his /her individuality in situations of adversity. Civilized people are tolerant but tolerance as a virtue is not a priority for Muslims. We should not tolerate what is intolerable and what is evil, but should dedicate ourselves to the values of liberty and justice. Peace, prosperity, justice and civilization itself, can be achieved only by the refusal to tolerate evil. One should tolerate different religious beliefs. But if such religious beliefs encourage smashing skyscrapers, killing innocent people, and forcefully convert poor people, we should not tolerate such dangerous belief system.      

To ensure our future, we should realize the perils of tolerance. In the name of tolerance, we should not allow Jihadi terrorists, communist fascists and Muslim fundamentalists to impose their intolerant ideology on our throat. It’s time to start rethinking things from the ground up. It’s time to realize the limits of tolerance and move away from moral paralysis.  When we think of the attitude shift necessary to regain our strength, we should remember the message of Voltaire” We must cultivate the spirit of tolerance in our hearts, but we should not allow the policy of toleration to be exploited and abused by fanatical sectarian groups which are subversive political movements in ecclesiastical disguise”.