In situations where conditions are economically depressed and politically charged, groups and individuals may find it hard to tolerate those that are different from them or have caused them harm. In such cases, discrimination, dehumanization, repression, and violence may occur. This can be seen in the context of Kosovo, where Kosovar Alabanians, grappling with poverty and unemployment, needed a scapegoat, and supported an aggressive Serbian attack against neighboring Bosnian Muslim and Croatian neighbors.
The uncertainty of chance in this distinction does not cancel the historical objectivity, but it necessitates freedom of thought and expression as preconditions of finding the way to freedom--it necessitates However, this tolerance cannot be indiscriminate and equal with respect to the contents of expression, neither in word nor in deed; it cannot protect false words and wrong deeds which demonstrate that they contradict and counteract the' possibilities of liberation. Such indiscriminate tolerance is justified in harmless debates, in conversation, in academic discussion; it is indispensable in the scientific enterprise, in private religion. But society cannot be indiscriminate where the pacification of existence, where freedom and happiness themselves are at stake: here, certain things cannot be said, certain ideas cannot be expressed, certain policies cannot be proposed, certain behavior cannot be permitted without making tolerance an instrument for the continuation of servitude.
We cannot persuade others unless we ourselves are at the same time ready to be persuaded by practicing sweet reasonableness. Thus it will be seen that tolerance as a social virtue, is opposed to dogmatism or dictatorship. It is impossible for one to be tolerant if one is hide-bound and rigid in views or full of prejudices.
Reflect on the frightful consequences of the right of intolerance. If it were allowed to despoil, cast in prison, and put to death a citizen who, at a certain degree of latitude, would not profess the religion generally admitted at that degree, how could we except the leaders of the State from those penalties? Religion equally binds the monarch and the beggar; hence more than fifty doctors or monks have made the monstrous assertion that it was lawful to depose or slay any sovereign who dissented from the dominant religion, and the Parliaments of our kingdom have repeatedly condemned these abominable decisions of abominable theologians.
Personal and Social Tolerance | Essays on Reducing Suffering
You say that there is a great difference; that all other religions are the work of man, and the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church alone is the work of God. But, surely, the fact that our religion is divine does not imply that it should rule by hatred, fury, exile, the confiscation of goods, imprisonment, torture, murder, and thanksgiving to God for murder? The more divine the Christian religion is, the less it is the place of man to command it; if God is its author, he will maintain it without your aid. You know well that intolerance begets only hypocrites or rebels. Fearful alternative! Would you, indeed, sustain by executioners the religion of a God who fell into the hands of executioners, and who preached only gentleness and patience?
Toleration and Other Essays - Online Library of Liberty
It is evident, moreover, that he was the victim of a furious party, angered against him. He had made irreconcilable enemies of the sophists, orators. and poets who taught in the schools, and of all the teachers in charge of the children of distinguished men. He himself admits, in his discourse given to us by Plato, that he went from house to house proving to the teachers that they were ignorant. Such conduct was hardly worthy of one whom an oracle had declared to be the wisest of men. A priest and a councillor of the Five Hundred were put forward to accuse him. I must confess that I do not know what the precise accusation was; I find only vagueness in his apology. He is made to say, in general, that he was accused of instilling into young men sentiments in opposition to the religion and government. It is the usual method of calumniators, but a court would demand accredited facts and precise charges. Of these there is no trace in the trial of Socrates. We know only that at first there were two hundred and twenty votes in his favour. From this we may infer that the court of the Five Hundred included two hundred and twenty philosophers; I doubt if so many could be found elsewhere. The majority at length condemned him to drink the hemlock; but let us remember that, when the Athenians returned to their senses, they regarded both the accusers and the judges with horror; that Melitus, the chief author of the sentence, was condemned to death for his injustice; and that the others were banished, and a temple was erected to Socrates. Never was philosophy so much avenged and honoured. The case of Socrates is really the most terrible argument that can be used against intolerance. The Athenians had an altar dedicated to foreign gods—the gods they knew not. Could there be a stronger proof, not merely of their indulgence to all nations, but even of respect for their cults?
We have Jews at Bordeaux and Metz and in Alsace; we have Lutherans, Molinists, and Jansenists; can we not suffer and control Calvinists on much the same terms as those on which Catholics are tolerated at London? The more sects there are, the less danger in each. Multiplicity enfeebles them. They are all restrained by just laws which forbid disorderly meetings, insults, and sedition, and are ever enforced by the community.
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