The world is becoming more and more intolerant. Differences are becoming more obvious, distinct and profound. Extreme left or right wing politics, Brexit remain or leave, impeachment in the USA, the rise of antisemitism in Germany, environmentalist or capitalist, and extremist terrorism. We have entered an age of intolerance. How do we reconcile and unify, is there the will to do this, or is hatred now tolerated?
Ideological differences are more profound than ever. This is the world of polarity, one or the other, right or wrong, mine or yours. Differences, opposites, are not tolerated in this current society of polarities. There is no middle ground. There is no acceptance, just the will to destroy others with different views. The world has become an incubator for hatred. “I hate them, because they are wrong.” Because of this, it is now a world of winners and losers.
With this moral battleground for right and wrong, beliefs become inflamed. With passionate opinions, vested interests, values to uphold, we have a lot to lose. Our views become entrenched as we defend our positions. The lines are drawn and the battle has begun, from which there is no turning back.
But this is also a battle of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’. The ‘MAD’ days of the Cold War have returned, but in a different form. The West is no longer on the edge of nuclear war with the Eastern Block. This is a new cold war of ‘them’ and ‘us’.
But this is not the war that we should be fighting. The real war that we must fight is the war on intolerance. For intolerance threatens our very existence. ‘Us ’ and ‘them’, ‘love’ and ‘hate’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. It is the rhetoric of difference and increasing separation within society that is our enemy.
But let’s not blame ‘them’ for creating this separation. Let’s accept it for what it is. The causes and whys and wherefores are not important. ‘We’ have created it, and ‘we’ can resolve this.
This resolution must be through a different way of thinking which led us to this point. This different way of thinking is the way of tolerance, listening to difference. Seeking to understand what this difference really means, with real empathy towards the ‘others.’ This is the way of tolerance. For they are not ‘others’, they are ‘us’, they are ‘me’ and ‘you’.
At the heart of the matter is that we are all scared. Our existence is threatened, we are all fighting for survival. But we have different, often competing or conflicting solutions.
Let’s put aside the competition and conflict to address the fundamental central issue that brings us together; we all want to be healthy and happy, now and for generations to come. If we can agree that this is the bond that unites us, then let’s work together. Listen to each other. Listen to understand, rather than listening to interrupt. Listen for similarities and the common ground that unites us, rather than differences that separate us. Listen with empathy, with tolerance, with humility and humanity. Listen to the middle ground, listen for unity. Listen and we all survive.