Friday, August 24, 2007

The Tolerance Dichotomy

Every one you know talks about it, large multinational corporations, small and medium sized enterprises, government organiztions, non government organizations, semi goverment organizations, housewives, old home residents, day care center workers, well pretty much every one else on the face of the tolerance to bias, be it gender, racial, ethnic, religious, or of any other type.

The Dichotomy
If the views of the entire population on earth were to be plotted on a band, white being completely tolerant, and black being completely intolerant, one would see a very nice little standard normal distribution of it. Population 2 standard deviations away from the mean are the ones that are absolute on their stance on tolerance, and for the purpose of this paper we are only going to discuss them. I will try and develop a typical psychographic profile of both sets of segments of the popultation i.e. the libertines and the fundamentalists.

The Fundamentalists
Fundamentalists are defined as people who believe in a basic set of principles. These principles found the building blocks of their beliefs, these are beliefs that define life, its meaning, give it direction and perhaps a culmniation as well.

A clear set of principles gives them a clear direction, leaves no room for confusion, brings in conviction into whatever they do. Unfortunately, with the conviction in belief also comes in the conviction to help those who lack this belief. Hence the notion of preaching, help those who dont believe to find the righteous path.

The Libertines
The libertines are the set of people who follow their heart. Right is what is felt right, that is the one and only rule defining life. Furthermore what is right is not for the group but for the individual. And hence originates the notion of living in harmony with everyone else.

Giving liberty to the population at large leaves the onus of respect to each and every individual and hence the persistent cause of people making their views heard and demanding for respect and appreciate of these views. Abortions, gay marriages, wearing scarfs to school, who is to say if there should be laws against these, yet we see libertine societies argue over these variables.

So what is right?
I am not a libertine, I believe in a certain set of rules. So the question that pops to ones mind is what are rules? Declaring that to murder, rape, abduct is wrong is a set of rules, and I support all these rules.

Every society develops its own set of rules to live by, liberal countries like The Netherlands and Scandinavian states put in a lot of trust in their citizens to work out for themselves what rules they want to live by. So whether it be carrying a certain amount of weed in your pocket, or being the first ones to acknowledge gay marriages, libertine societies cannot emphasize enough the respect for free will.

The other end of the dichotomy is states that adopt faith as their governing basis. Most prominent examples are countries like Saudi Arabia. Religion sets in black and white what is wrong and right for the people. The people also put followings of the faith on top of their own, and so women must cover from head to toe and no one eats during the day for the entire month of Ramadan. These are of course rules that actually tell you how you are going to live your life, how you are going to dress eat and socialize.

Religion is not the only faith that puts rules in black and white, an equally robust school of thought is Socialism. Just like states that put religion as the basis of government and economy, socialism albeit in a highly mature form puts a similar structure in order. History has been witness that this system has never worked. From the catholic strong monarchies of middle ages, to the Soviet Union and its allies, never has a black and white rule resulted in happy masses.

There is an obvious difference between rules that declare to murder is wrong, and rules that say men and women shall not enter from the same door in an office.

The Right Set of Rules
Depends totally on the society, just as one sets rules for their children in the house, how strict or how lenient you want to be with them is a measure of how well behaved they are and how likely they are to act in a responsible manner when left to their own devices.

The question now is, when you impose responsibility on an individual, what are the odds of them owning up to that responsibllity and start acting professionally as opposed to start abusing the authority that comes with the responsibility. An example is the ticket checking mechanism that most european countries have in their public transport busses and trams; there isnt one. It is left to the individual to be responsible and honest to himself and to the state.

The right set of rules is then the set of boundries devised in a society which the citizens of that society are likely to abide by. Consider the social security rules and regulations in England. The rules are really meant to provide a basic living standard to the entire population. however, when individuals start abusing the authority and actually quit their jobs to start living on dole, is when one questions the appropriateness of the rules.

What Defines a Libertine and a Fundamentalist Society
It is my belief that given the choice, all socities would opt for freedom of expression and speech. No society would really want a religion to set the basic living rules. Faith is personal, sure it has its effects on a culture or a geography, but its effects are probably less than those of the movies, music, television programs or of blog sites like the one you are reading at the moment. Rules/boundries have to be set based on the level of education that a society has, the average age and related demographics and psychographics. If China is predominantly a smoker nation, you really would not want to ban smoking in public places and bars in Shanghai as they have in Singapore or London.

For any society to breath freely, it has to move away from using religion as its guiding light, and follow the hearts of the people, identify how much liberty they can absorb and then give them that liberty.

Gradually, the level of maturity of people is bound to increase, to the point where you have a utopian society, policing which is not a requirement. Personal beliefs are taken as personal beliefs, and tolerance is the order of the day.

Thats right, the tolerance dichotomy has utopia standing right at the other end of where the fundamentalist society of today stands. So while i started off with a mild critique of how fundamentalist socities are formed, and I still respect their views, I truly belive they have to move towards freedom of speech and expression if the members of that society are to flourish as engineers, artists, doctors or businesspersons.