From: Scientific American

The U.S. Needs Tolerance More Than Unity

The 2020 United States election and the ensuing riot are further evidence—as if we needed more—of how deeply divided the country is today. The divisions are regional, ideological, cultural, moral and, some say, intractable. A team of prominent scientists recently warned of the dangers of a new foundational threat to the republic: political sectarianism, or the tendency to adopt a moralized identification with a political group and against another.

Psychologically, tolerance can be difficult because it requires us to hold two seemingly contradictory opinions: disapproval of another’s beliefs, with simultaneous support of their equal right to express these beliefs. It is this psychological dance that makes tolerance difficult to accomplish yet also allows us to live in harmony despite deep-seated differences. Tolerance does not imply neutrality (i.e., no judgment), indifference (i.e., a “whatever” attitude) or relativism (i.e., “anything goes”) toward difference. It simply asks that people engage with differences by weighing our objections alongside reasons to permit what we might personally disapprove of. After all, an atheist is unlikely to persuade a devout Christian to abandon their religion, any more than a Christian can convince an ardent atheist about the veracity of their faith. However, despite disagreement and even disapproval, both can learn to tolerate each other’s beliefs.

Tolerance is what makes real diversity possible. By creating social spaces and norms where we can share our lives and society with people with whom we disagree, it offers room for dialogue, mutual understanding, and recognition of shared and equal citizenship of our opponents, even if we disapprove of their beliefs, practices and values.Tolerance is about respecting other people as equal citizens and human beings, not respecting their viewpoints. Disagreements about our values and beliefs are inevitable, and they are acceptable, so long as we can maintain mutual respect toward others as equal citizens and fellow human beings.

Read the whole story: Scientific American

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