Tolerance is not the cure of intolerance

A. When you see intolerance rising in the society, you would realise that:

1. “Intolerance” at a large-scale would have more than one facet, so it would have variety of ‘flavors’

2. To manifest on a wide scale, it must be not only widely spread but also deeply rooted. Think about a large tree as an analogy.

3. What you see at a societal level is an average. While in some places/instances it would be weaker, elsewhere it must be much stronger than you would ever come across, first hand.

B. Statistically, half the people in the society would believe that the ‘intolerance’ is justified.

C. If you disapprove of the intolerance (you are in the ‘other’ 50%), chances are again 50% that you would do nothing to change it – may be due to apathy, lack of control, or whatsoever. But the society will get no action from you.

D. If you disapprove of the intolerance, and do decide to do something to reduce or prevent it, you are among the 25% of the society. If you think that the way to cure intolerance is by becoming more “tolerant”, chances of your success are abysmal.

E. “Tolerance” is not enough as an antidote to intolerance. To tolerate is just to reconcile yourself with the fact that something exists, and not getting affected by its existence. But you assert that that something is not you, not what you like and what you believe in.

F. Tell me, what do you do when you fall seriously ill? Does your doctor only give you the medicine to make your body tolerant to disease-causing bodies? That would be vaccination in most cases, and would not work at the moment when the disease is raging furiously. What is needed in the moment of a serious illness is to eliminate the cause – as far as possible.

G. Tolerance requires tough drill and begins in the childhood with vaccination, way before the attack by the disease.

H. If that analogy works for you, then in the face of rising intolerance, you must give more than tolerance. That ‘more than’ should go beyond passive acceptance and would need to be actual liking, and love, if you think about the fact that only a fourth of the population is going to act against intolerance and that statistically, there is still 50% chance that you will go all out and still fail.

I. Now think about attitudes and actions by others in your immediate surroundings that you disapprove of, but you have not just tolerated at arm’s-length, but liked, embraced and actually loved.

J. Even if you did something to that effect in the past, it is not enough because the intolerance is staring at you in the face right now.

K. So, break out of the fixation on awards and hit the road. Do something. Demonstrate that you can love something or someone that you disapprove of. Or, forever shut your mouth.


23 thoughts on “Tolerance is not the cure of intolerance

  1. I’d question your “50%” assumptions. Half the people think that intolerance is justified ? Are you sure ? That is quite a leap of an assumption.

    After that you again make an assumption that only 50% of the other half want to do something.
    And how do you compute their chances as abysmal ?

    Many forms of protest are tokenism. Some are done to create awareness, to get the “casual bystander” to ask himself questions.

    I believe that I am “tolerant”. I don’t agree with “intolerance”. How should I react. Maybe I could just shrug off the intolerance of someone standing opposite me as an outcome of his ignorance.

    When intolerance is repeatedly visible it becomes an issue for society. Intolerance of certain forms has existed for decades. Intolerance of other forms has existed for centuries. With modern media (called “mainstream media” ?) and social media visibility is now what is significantly higher.

    The ways to address this are education and integration. Education from childhood. Integration may be invisibly done by means of rules/regulations/laws as well.

    This will take decades to reduce (never completely eradicate). Those who are raising their voices now may not be alive to see a significant change in society a few decades hence.


    • I will get back soon on this. Life s a bit hectic around here dye to Diwali days 🙂 Happy new year!


    • First of all, thank you for your decision to ‘follow’ the blog! Since you have decided to follow, rather than clobbering the supposed stance of the writer, I see that as a sign of ‘tolerance’ 🙂

      Well. regarding the probability of 50% and 50% of 50%:
      I had mentioned that it is a statistical bit, but what was implied behind it is the standard theory of coin-toss. If you toss a coin for really long time, you will get heads 50% of the times, and tail the other 50% of times. But if you just toss a few times, you may get heads or tails more times than the other.

      I then combined this bit of fact with the cautious or conservative stance of a planner. When planners make plans, they ask themselves, “What can go wrong?” “What are the worst possible outcomes?” and then plan to safeguard against those worst possibilities so that plans do not fail at the first adversity. It is not cynicism, or pessimism, but more like the product design and testing process where there is a drop test and shock test and the like.

      It was in this fashion that I wrote that we may think that 50% in the society will actually endorse the intolerance – may be because they don’t think it is intolerance, actually. Out of the 50% of people who disapprove of intolerance, 50% will do nothing about it. For whatever reason. Perhaps like you and me, who themselves may not be intolerant, but may do nothing or little to stop intolerance by others. So, 25% of the population will do something about the issue of intolerance, but implied there again is the statistical rule that 50% will fail. again, 50% of the ‘successful” results may not last long, because ot is short term success, and we know that systems regress to their old state all the time. Thus, 6.25% of the population will succeed in bringing out measures that work against the intolerance issue in the long run.

      And, I agree that education and integration are the ways to go. My argument is, when we teach or train, we must teach more than just tolerance. Tolerance, in my mind, is more like a recessive gene. In order to manifest itself against all possible genetic mutations (here in case of all other exigencies and dynamics), it must be strong. So I argues that not just tolerance, but (perhaps as Mahatma – and many other saints – argued), we need the ability to embrace and actually love the differences and divergences and the people who believe otherwise.

      I appreciate your tone – you only need to read some other comments above – that questions in a manner that invites dialogue, rather than sarcasm and discount based on no understanding of what I tried to write.

      And, I will be willing to carry on this dialogue further – only perhaps at not-so-fast pace. Happy new year!


  2. Anupan Khair says:

    That is what I have been saying. Those who are complaining of intolerance should be hanged. That would automatically shut their mouths. Isn’t that what you also say: “shut your mouth forever”.

    These guys are damaging the country’s image internationally.


  3. Sanjay Patel says:

    Are you saying that a scared man had no right to complain if he cannot wield a sword?


  4. Sanjay Patel says:

    ” Or, forever shut your mouth.” That is Buddhist/Vedic tolerance. We love it. Shankaracharya would have loved it.


    • That is my line. What has Buddha or Shankara or whoever else got to do with it? If you are aware, even Christians have similar invite to those who have objection, to raise it when something can still be done about it, or forever hold the tongue.


  5. Sanjay Patel says:

    Har Har Modi!!!! Har Ghar Modi!!!!!

    Thanks Madame, for reviving the cheerleading.


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