The opposite fault

From G. K. Chesterton’s essay Conceit and Caricature:

Before we congratulate ourselves upon the absence of certain faults from our nation or society, we ought to ask ourselves why it is that these faults are absent. Are we without the fault because we have the opposite virtue? Or are we without the fault because we have the opposite fault? It is a good thing assuredly, to be innocent of any excess; but let us be sure that we are not innocent of excess merely by being guilty of defect.

For example, when we boast of being tolerant, are we gracious and charitable toward those with whom we fervently disagree, or are we actually apathetic?

9 thoughts on “The opposite fault

  1. In my experience, there’s a lot of fake tolerance out there. People “tolerate” what they think is unimportant and does not matter. Once something actually matters, they start screaming. Of course, the way they claim to be tolerant is by choosing some domain that does not matter to them (for example, an atheist might be “tolerant” of a liberal Christian whose beliefs and actions are practically undistinguishable from an atheist’s, apart from use of God language that the atheist smiles at and considers inconsequential and harmless).

  2. We value Harmony with our neighbors, but do we practice this through Cooperation, or by Isolation?

  3. Tolerance doesn’t really work in the long run. It’s a one-directional relationship where one is considered unacceptably deficient in some attribute by the other, but this defect is glossed over to meet near term needs. Mutual respect seems to be a better and more stable option. It allows for equality, yet allowing the two people to freely maintain their differences unlike a tolerance based rule, where at some point in time, the “deficient” person is required to get “treated” to be deemed equal. Tolerance feels like a ‘necessary condition’ whereas mutual respect may well be sufficient to achieve long-term stability. verbose version here:
    http://dualnoise.blogspot.com/2012/01/working-multicultural-model-necessary.html

  4. Shivaram, you beat me to it. I agree that respect is often what is needed, rather than tolerance. Tolerance, at least the way it is used today, seems to mean that we must pretend that everyone’s view is acceptable, no matter how nonsensical, and we must simply tolerate each other. I would much rather see a healthy intellectual climate, where we can openly disagree and debate. Such a climate requires that we respect each other while still allowing open discussion of different viewpoints.

  5. There are two central tenets of the diversity crowd:
    1. A complete and total commitment to the freedom of speech
    2. Shut up.

    (paraphrased from a Douglas Wilson talk on the Indiana U. campus, while being loudly interrupted by open-minded-students.)

  6. @Eric

    Chesterton had a nice line about that. “Good taste, the last and vilest of human superstitions, has succeeded in silencing us where all the rest have failed.”

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