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Tolerance and Diversity 

One of the politically correct words that it’s in vogue to be in favor of these days is tolerance. But it’s a pernicious meme and a hypocritical one in may cases. To be really in favor of tolerance, you would have to tolerate all kinds of beliefs: racism, big government, prohibition, and or course intolerance. No, when people say they are in favor of tolerance they usually mean that they are against other people imposing their beliefs on them and that they’re willing to do the same in a limited way in return. I say in a “limited” way because it is the rare tolerant person who will stand by and not give an intolerant one a lecture on tolerance, or at least mumble something to passers-by after the offender has departed.

This passive-aggressive stance of tolerance stems from an unwillingness to take a stand. I believe there are certain memes that deserve spreading throughout society. One of them is consciousness, and I take every chance to impose that belief on others through my writing and speaking. Another is opportunity, which I spread in a similar way. A third is technological progress, which results in a better life for us all if not deterred by irrational fears. Through clarity of purpose, I am willing to take a stand for these things.

Sometimes people know what they stand against, but not what they stand for. This is a position of weakness because standing against a thing requires the continued existence of that thing. It also eliminates the possibility of finding a happy partnership with someone who stands for that which you are against. No, the power is in taking strong stands for, in alignment with my purpose. Imagine a world full of people standing for different things, all able to find ways to work together to make all their visions come true. It works so much better than a world full of people standing against the cherished beliefs of one another.

Finally, a word on diversity. It has been said that diversity is a hallmark of a healthy ecosystem and that we ought to welcome all views so as to create a healthy memetic environment. In my eye, diversity is not a cause of health but an effect. A well-balanced ecosystem with plenty of natural resources has a wealth of species all wanting to get a piece of the action. Does that mean we should tolerate mosquitoes, cockroaches, and parasites living in our houses?

There are plenty of views that need not be tolerated. But what works is to take a stand for. A major shift in public health in ancient Rome was the change in emphasis from fighting disease to improving public hygiene. A stand for clean water saved more lives than any stand against disease could possibly have saved. Likewise, stands against religion, stupidity, racism, and so on are all less effective than stands for conscious living, education, empowerment—you name it! At Level 3 we have the ability to choose practical and effective memes, not only for ourselves, but to spread throughout the world.

Richard Brodie
February 2000