UNESCO is an agency of the United Nations. It was formed to “promote the exchange of information, ideas, and culture.” Sounds good, right? Go online to learn more about UNESCO and you will find out that in 1984 the US withdrew as a member of that body to “protest its growing politicization, anti-Western bias, rampant mismanagement, and advocacy of policies that undermine freedom of the press and free markets.”Fast forward to November 16, 1995, the day of its fiftieth anniversary. On that day UNESCO’s Member States provided another reason for those who advocate for clear thinking and sanity to have nothing to do with UNESCO. That was the day member states adopted a Declaration of Principles on Tolerance. Among other things, the Declaration affirmed that tolerance is “neither indulgence nor indifference. It is respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance recognizes the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. People are naturally diverse; only tolerance can ensure the survival of mixed communities in every region of the globe.”
Isn’t that wonderful? Who can object to the notion that we should all be tolerant?
Well, I do and I will tell you why.
First, let me say that normally – and if you’re a regular reader of the Obstacle Blaster blog, you know – I am not one to be political in these articles. And frankly, this article won’t be purposely political either. Nonetheless, the word “tolerant” has become a very politically-charged word. It shouldn’t be, but it is. So, I predict that some will read this and become indignant that I would deign to suggest that tolerance is not just a bad thing; that it is truly an evil thing.
Aristotle is credited with having said, “Tolerance and apathy are the last virtues of a dying society.” Some scholars believe he did not actually say that, but that he, nonetheless, expressed that general sentiment when he wrote about what happens to a nation when it allows foreigners to come in and live (occupy) as though they always belonged there… without truly assimilating into the society as a bonafide citizen. [Not to intentionally stir the political pot, but does that sound familiar?]
More recently Dr. James Kennedy wrote that “Tolerance is the last virtue of a depraved society.” What does he mean by that? And isn’t he a Christian preacher? Doesn’t the Bible promote tolerance?
Yes, it is true that the Bible’s “love chapter”, I Corinthians 13, says that “Love endureth all things.” So, let’s quickly deal with the argument that the Bible promotes the version of tolerance that its present-day advocates are pushing.
The notion that “love endureth all things” is clearly part of a very specific discussion of love, not tolerance. I Corinthians 13 defines love. It says that loving another person, and being loving toward them, can be defined, in part, as enduring whatever treatment you get from them.
However, does that mean you ought to unconditionally “tolerate” everything another person does, even if it is harmful to you, to them or to the society as a whole? Absolutely not. To do so would ultimately abide evil.
For example, one of the under-told stories of World War II are the heroic efforts of the German resistance movement; proud deutschlanders who risked – and gave – their lives to the underground effort to assassinate Hitler or at least undermine the Nazi reign of terror in whatever way(s) they could. It involved thousands of good people inside and outside the government and military who were not willing to tolerate the unspeakable wrong and, yes, evil that was being orchestrated and executed in the name of the German people by the Third Reich. And many of them were executed. Why? For being intolerant. They said No. No more. We will not tolerate this.
Another example: by simply sitting down on a bus and then saying, “No,” a tired woman named Rosa Parks became a hero of the civil rights movement. At the time, she wasn’t thinking, ‘This is a good day to start a citywide passive protest movement against racism in Montgomery, Alabama.’ She was just tired after a long day of work as a seamstress and, in her words, “tired of giving in”. On December 1, 1955 she was tired enough of being tolerant of institutional racism that she decided to say, ‘No. No more. I will not get up. I will stay right here. I will not tolerate this any longer.’Upon her death at the age of 92 in 2005, Rosa Parks was the first woman and second non-U.S. government official to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda. This month, February 2013, Rosa Parks appears on a commemorative stamp issued by the US Post Office.
We honor Rosa Parks for saying No. We honor her for her intolerance.
Do we tolerate teachers who beat children in their classroom? No. We are intolerant of the mistreatment of our kids. Whether it is done by Jerry Sandusky, or a priest, or a Boy Scout leader, we are especially intolerant of the sexual exploitation of our kids.
Friends, do not be pressured into accepting the lie that love equals tolerance and tolerance equals love. And do not accept the wrong-headed and, ultimately, evil proposition that “only tolerance can ensure the survival of mixed communities in every region of the globe.” It just isn’t so.
The ancient Mayans deserved to disappear into extinction. They were evil! Some things are okay to brand as evil and I don’t think I am going out on a limb by stating that the human sacrifice of as many as 20,000 innocent victims in a single day is evil. Evil should not be tolerated. So no, not all cultures or ideas or beliefs ought to be equally valued and embraced and celebrated.
Nancy Reagan coined the phrase, “Just say no.” Whether we are saying No to drugs or institutional racism or genocide or the abuse of children… or anything that has been proven to not work, anything that is destructive, or anything that represents an obstacle to a better life; it is okay to be intolerant. It’s okay to say No.