Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Apocalyptic Visions. Part 2: Intolerance

The first article in this Apocalyptic Visions series presented a review of the Simple Explanation's theory of memes. Again, we use the term "meme" to stand for a belief or a tidbit of knowledge. These memes are passed around to our friends like trading cards--most of our close friends hold the same meme cards we do; that's why they are our friends. The more memes you hold in common with someone else, the more you like them. The opposite is also true--we have a difficult time relating to people who hold a different set of memes.
Here is the bottom-line of the previous Apocalyptic Visions article:

The Simple Explanation suggests that "live and let live" would be a great meta-meme for everyone to adopt. If we could appreciate the fact that each of us has a unique perspective, then perhaps we could allow each other to hold the memes that make the most sense for our lives. This is my meme chord; that is your meme chord. If I don't like your meme chord then I can talk it over with you and see if we can move our meme chords closer to one another in agreement. If neither of us is able or willing to swap memes with the other, then so be it. Either accept the other person, memes and all, or move on. Find someone else who more closely agrees with your memes. There is enough room in this world for each of us to hold our own chords, but only if "live and let live" is an overarching meme.

We are now in the midst of a social epidemic of intolerance. Intolerance is the opposite of "live and let live." When we are intolerant of others' memes, we are declaring that our memes are correct and their memes are wrong. And then we take it a step further--we refuse to "tolerate" the others' memes. We throw up resistance, we throw up roadblocks, we close our ears and refuse to listen to the other. We do not merely disagree, as reasonable people may do from time to time. When we are intolerant, we look for ways to force the other to abandon their memes and adopt ours. We shout them down because we feel we are shouting the right memes and theirs are not only wrong, they are evil and have no right to be heard. And once you declare the other "evil," it is no longer a disagreement in good faith, but a fight for the soul. 
Anti-fascist counter-protesters wait outside Emancipation Park to hurl insults as white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and members of the "alt-right" are forced out after the "Unite the Right" rally was declared an unlawful gathering August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images
Once words can no longer be exchanged, frustration builds and violence follows. This is what we are seeing now in the U.S.  Free exchange of memes has been thwarted because of intolerance. 

Exchange of ideas is the key. You needn't agree with the other person, but you must hear them out. Because, once you agree to sit and exchange ideas and concerns, whether or not you adopt the other's ideas, the very act of hearing each other out creates a shared space that acts as a balm to soothe your soul and theirs. When you are too angry, frustrated, or afraid to listen to the other, you perpetuate the intolerance that leads to violence. This intolerance is not helpful. 

We hear a lot about the importance of "diversity" nowadays in America. True diversity can only thrive if we allow each other to "live and let live." When you seek to silence those with whom you disagree, you are not encouraging diversity; you are actually partaking in fascism. 

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