Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nagged into submission

Professor Anthony Esolen, in "Toleration and Reciprocity" argues that tolerating isn't the same as condoning, and requires, in turn, toleration and a certain respectful reticence.
.... Since human beings are wayward—since they suffer the ills of pride, envy, avarice, lust, and the other deadlies—we will always require the modest virtue of tolerance to get through a day without knocking one another about the head.

The root meaning of the word suggests what the virtue involves. The Latin tol- is related to a group of words having to do with carrying a burden: German dulden, to be patient, to endure; Old English tholian, to suffer; Latin tuli, I have borne. When we tolerate we bear with someone or something; we bear the existence of a wrong. We do so because, given the circumstances, to protest would invite a greater wrong. There is a time for public correction, and a time for quiet endurance and, if the opportunity arises, private correction.

I should like to distinguish tolerance from an even more modest virtue, one without a name; it is part civility, part equanimity, part humility. .... Tolerance properly understood always suggests the bearing of some trouble, or even of moral wrong. ....

.... Every person alive is beset by temptations. We may utter them to our confessors, or, less often, to our best friends on condition of secrecy, or to our spouses, when it would not cause needless pain. Beyond that, we assist the tolerance of our neighbors by keeping our serpents to ourselves. ....

[Not doing so] is an offense against tolerance. It is to make one’s neighbor always aware of his tolerance: to weary him with it, to pester him little by little into giving in, because it is so much easier to condone than to tolerate. So it is that the most intolerant among us frequently preach about tolerance—to nag their opponents into submission, and to get their way.
The Imaginative Conservative: Toleration and Reciprocity

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