Question Time, 18th January, on the panel are Alastair Campbell and George Galloway. Now they are not the best of friends and George launched a pretty vitriolic attack – as you would expect. Now I can’t stand George and I’m not too keen on Alastair but that’s not the point. George is a member of the “Respect” party but he shows no one any respect (except perhaps Sadam Hussain) and this got me thinking about respect.
These days many groups, often but not always religious groups, seem to be demanding that we show them respect. These very same groups never seem to show any. At the same time, tolerance seems to have fallen out of favour. It is regarded as almost patronising. Well let’s talk about respect and tolerance.
First, I don’t think respect is under conscious control. If I think someone is a complete plonker I cannot CHOOSE to respect them, I just can’t, and I don’t think anyone else can either. This means that almost all the so-called respect flying around is actually just hypocrisy.
Second, tolerance in contrast is honest. “I think you’re an idiot, but you have a right to be an idiot, and I’ll even try to be polite to you. Hopefully, although you don’t respect me you will return the compliment of politeness and tolerance”.
This simple method allows people to rub-along together without having to resort to the pretence of respect. We don’t have to love or respect each other. We don’t have to understand and sympathise with each other’s philosophy/religion. We don’t have to invite each other round to dinner. We don’t have to like the idea of our children marrying each other. All of these would be nice, but they are NOT required.
All we have to do is agree to tolerate each other and try to be polite.
Take a look around at the fundamentalists and extremists – they talk all the time of respect but they are intolerant to the point of thinking that killing people who disagree with them is ok.
So let me make it plain. If you really believe that:
- The world is less than 10,000 years old
- We are all born sinners
- “Citizen Kane” is REALLY the best film ever made
- Human beings do not have a soul
- Human beings have an immortal soul given to them by God
- Roy Chubby Brown is funny
- Islam, or Christianity, or ……. is a religion of peace
- There is a heaven and a hell
- Manchester United will not win the league this year (we did)
- Noah’s ark was real
- Apollo 11s trip to the moon was not real
- My opinions are more important than yours
- Your opinions are more important than mine
Then I definitely DO NOT respect you – not for a second – and I don’t care – and I don’t care if you don’t respect me.
But I will not kill you, I will tolerate you, and even defend your right to be an idiot unmolested. – Please return the favour.
“What do you think of today’s rant?”……………….. “Tolerable!”