Jul 142014 0 Responses

Intolerant: Anyone Who Disagrees With Me

A CEO is forced out of his position because he is intolerant.

It sounds reasonable. Our leaders should be held to a higher standard and tolerance is a fair expectation for any CEO.

Yet what was his act of intolerance? He made a political donation toward an issue he believed in—an issue which won the majority vote.

When Brendan Eich was forced out as Mozilla’s CEO, Americans not only did something unAmerican—the firing of someone for a political opinion—but we also revealed the hypocrisy by which we use the words tolerant and intolerant.

The modern definition of intolerance is anyone who has an opinion contrary to mine.

Having a political view is not intolerant. Eich’s viewpoint had no influence on how he treated employees, customers, or friends. There is no evidence his actions or attitudes were unfair to anyone.

Instead, he was labeled intolerant because of an opinion. (See: Everyone Has a Right to Ignore Your Opinion)

But notice the irony: the only intolerance in the story of Brendan Eich was done by those who forced Eich from his job. His opinion was part of the political process and inflicted no harm on anyone involved. But the opinion of others, which forced him from his job, clearly injured Eich.

Intolerance was exemplified by people calling Eich intolerant.

This is the new normal—the most intolerant are often those screaming for tolerance.

To tolerate means to endure something different from us. In the most strict terms, one can only be intolerant if they possess the ability to disallow or restrict the thoughts or actions of another. But in the practical sense, tolerance can also be used to describe someone who doesn’t allow the beliefs or actions of another to change how they treat the other person. So you are being tolerant when you allow me to have an opinion which disagrees with you, without allowing the disagreement to radically change how you interact with me.

You don’t have to agree with me, but you do have to respect my right to have an opinion. (See: Opinions Rarely Matter)

It’s possible that the greatest intolerance which is happening today is:

  • the refusal to have an honest debate about real issues
  • labeling an opponent as a bigot without truly understanding their point
  • judging another person’s heart as evil because they disagree with you
  • seeking to inflict personal or professional harm on someone because of an opinion

These are the real examples of intolerance in our society which are getting little attention. This is the intolerance which needs to be extinguished. (See: A Sign of Doubt–Why Your Co-worker Screams His Beliefs)

Consider someone you believe to be intolerant? Are they truly intolerant or do they simply disagree with you?

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