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Tolerance - maybe I've got it all wrong?

Mar 8, 2012 • 3 comments • 3209 views

My very first post was about Tolerance and how on the one hand it’s held up as the pinnacle of a civilised society, but on the other hand it’s not a very lofty goal, considering it’s merely gritting our teeth and bearing those we disagree with.


But in recent days, since I saw the KONY 2012 video, I’ve been wondering if I’ve got it all wrong? Maybe we shouldn’t aspire to tolerance at all? Maybe we don’t really, anyway. Maybe it’s all just rhetoric?


My head has been muddled. I blame postmodernism. I’m trying to get it straight. This is where it’s got me, so far.


I thought I could respect the person and still reject his ideas. But I don’t respect Kony, I despise him. But I am angry at him because of love; love and compassion for the children enlisted in the LRA. Love and hate both lead to a call for Justice. Justice is an intolerance of injustice.


It seems we have a choice to make: either we want to be a Tolerant society, or a Just society. The two seem mutually exclusive. I know, I know, it’s all relative.


But this video showed that people want the world rescued from evil, even though we reject absolutes and therefore the notion of evil. Was it Bertrand Russell who said there is no right or wrong, just different; like purple is different to brown? That idea is at the heart of tolerance: because nothing is right and nothing is wrong, we all need to accept one another; live and let live.


But it’s a very short journey from live and let live, to live and let die. The people of the TRI campaign decided they cannot live and just let Kony live how he chooses, because he chooses to abduct, rape and kill. And people like Jacob’s brother, die.


Why do we reject absolutes? So we can reject God as a failed hypothesis. But Nietzsche recognised the implications of removing God from our modus operandi: if we cannot appeal to an absolute outside ourselves, then we are reduced to living in fear of ‘the will to power’. Enter Joseph Kony. We despise his will and are fearful of his power.


Even though we hate absolutes, we love truth. We are tolerant truth-lovers: an oxymoron if ever there was. In reality truth is unfashionably, un-politically correct, or is it politically incorrect? Either way, it’s because it makes an exclusive claim: I am right and no other! It is intolerant of lies. Lies are much more tolerant and inclusive, accepting of every version of anything. We hate lies, even though they are friends with relativism.


The invisible children campaign made it very clear that in the age of relativism, there is still an absolute: Kony is evil. They want him brought to Justice. But who holds the measuring stick of what qualifies as evil and what qualifies as justice? Apparently the people do. In this postmodern, tolerant society, the final authority is what the people power approves. After all, ‘might is right’. In this cyber-age, our moral gauge is: if it goes viral; it’s right.


We want people like Kony stopped and punished for his crimes against humanity. We are angry at his mistreatment of people, at his claim on children’s lives. We hate what he does. But we are not motivated by hate, we are motivated by love. Jason Russell has spent nine years of his life fulfilling a promise of love, in the form of his friendship with Jacob.


I am no hate-loving radical. I hate hate so much that I even hate the word hate. But this whole Kony campaign has got me wondering whether hate and intolerance leads to justice in the name of love and compassion?


Maybe we need intolerance, after all? That is, if we want Justice.



P.S. Here's my piece on lessons I learned from the Kony 2012 campaign.

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Zetetics and Noetics

Hello Belinda. Interesting stream of thoughts here and your heart is in the right place. However, I would point out that it is necessary to research this Kony2012 issue much further, if you haven't already. Sound judgement should be the next step after the crashing of emotional thunder, so to speak.

Many journalists and other activists have already pointed out the fraudulent campaign for what it really is: a call to violence and invasion of a country based on rallying the public around love and justice. Does anybody honestly still believe the world's rulers are full of love for Africa, or any other country, aside from their limited self-interest or those of their Board of Directors, bankers and backers?

Besides the much condemned budget management of Invisible Children (allocating only approx. 30% of donations to the cause), which funds "awareness" raising and arming the Ugandan government (who are accused of the same exact crimes as Kony's LRA group), the other concerns range from the fact that many experts, including the USA administration, have claimed several years earlier that Kony is most likely not even in Uganda. I will post a video below from one American whose family is from Uganda, who claims never to have never heard of Kony, nor have her family who still live there. By most estimates, actually Kony supposedly is no longer active as most of the neighboring countries have pushed him into the jungles.

In other words, there is a motive behind the film, and it takes only a few minutes of research on the (god bless it) World Wide Web to figure this out, albeit cautiously otherwise you will never step out of the rabbit hole. One of the age-old culprits is oil. In fact, one of the world's largest oil deposites was discovered in Uganda in 2008, conveniently so, eh?

So in short, I don't agree with your last statement :)
Massacres as they have played out in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya in the name of blind Justice, is exactly what is wrong with the USA.

03.15.12 •
Thank you so much for interacting with me on this, Marianna! I have been waiting for someone to.

Thanks for the acknowledgment that my heart's in the right place. And I am always happy for anyone to disagree with me, but I just want to point out I'm not making a statement, but asking a question.

And I agree; once the emotional clap of thunder subsides, it's easier to start looking objectively at the issues. I watched the video you linked to. She's a very articulate person who seems to know a lot of back story.

Personally, I am not for the invasion of Uganda. I am interested in the muddle of ideas we seem to espouse at the same time, inconsistent as they are with each other.

I find it very fascinating that we hold up tolerance and justice as twin champions, though they seem to cancel each other out.

A couple of other things: I give invisible Children the benefit of the doubt that their heart is in the right place too.

Sure we have mixed motives for everything we do; some selfish, some altruistic, but I see it as a good sign that Gen Y is pro-active in wanting to make the world a better place, even if (without wanting to be patronising) they may be idealistic. I applaud the desire to want to DO something.

And lastly, I wrote the piece to legitimately ask the question, "maybe I'm wrong?" It's a question I want to keep in the habit of asking myself. I would hate to be a decision maker on world issues because as you can see, I have too many questions and not enough answers.

Thanks for your feeback and exchange of ideas, Marianna.
03.15.12 •
comment deleted: 03.14.12
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