There is a prevalent attitude in present day society which seems to say, you are welcome to “your truth” and I to “my truth.” This kind of easy tolerance leaves no room for dialogue. What it says is that we have no right to claim that anything, anywhere, is really wrong, or right, or truth. so why bother to talk about it together. You have your truth; I have mine! This kind of tolerance, if we take it to its logical conclusion, means that we would have to allow Hitler to proclaim the persecution of Jews as “his” truth. We would have to allow another person to say that one race is inferior to another as “his” truth! This sort of tolerance leads rationally to indifference where there is no right, no wrong, no truth.
The other side of this easy tolerance are those who claim to have the Truth, “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” This is just as illogical as an easy tolerance and perhaps even more arrogant. Those who think they hold the Truth become adamant in their position, that it is either their way or the highway. This becomes a serious matter in a democracy, something we have witnessed recently in regard to the rights of women and other groups of people. It runs rampant today in religion and in politics. Once again, the presumptive "Holder of Truth" and the one who is still seeking it, or the one who thinks that he or she may have some tidbit of the Truth, have no room for dialogue.
The attitude of easy tolerance won’t do! The belief that one holds the absolute Truth won’t fly! Both positions are subjective rather than objective. Neither attitude allows for dialogue, much less compromise.
|Sequoia National Park, California|
Sometimes we say that it is what people do that matters most, but we frequently neglect the fact that what people believe determines what they do—and what they think. If we believe that persons are only cabbages (strange, different, outsiders, inferior, etc.) there is no reason to value them or liberate them from various kinds of bondage, but if, by contrast, we believe that they are persons who possess “that of God within,” as the Quakers say, we are bound to look upon all men and women (regardless of being strangers or outsiders, and all the rest) with respect.