In a world reduced to digital exchanges and swift judgments, reviving tolerance has become vital. Toleration comes from the ancient Proto-Indo-European root meaning “to carry,” a capacity collapsing in current culture. We stumble into extremes when we lose the strength to carry the tension of opposite ideas and feelings. Exaggerations of discomfort and hyperbolic comparisons pepper media messages and inflame the underinformed public–the collective psyche lists from topic to topic. In the vertigo of confusion, we make terrible decisions and strike out blindly.
Disorientation is not new, and the wise have tried over and again to help us restore inner balance. The Greek Stoics differentiated the internal functions we can tame from the outer circumstances we cannot control. Their goal was to maintain a serene disposition in every circumstance. Buddhists venerate equanimity, or a balanced mind undisturbed by life’s phenomena. They practice Metta, establishing a flow of loving kindness to all life. It creates a new attitude where those who create suffering are only unskilled, always capable of gaining the skills of kindness. In the 20th century, Existentialists emphasized individual freedom, choice, and responsibility. They encouraged us to navigate the absurdities of life with calmness and courage, understanding that life’s fluctuating circumstances are inherent in human existence. Cultivating these attitudes can equilibrate cancel culture’s mounting costs – social polarization, intellectual stifling, economic repercussions, and psychological distress.
The value of constructive self-regulation is multifaceted – from personal resilience and effective interpersonal interactions to societal harmony and progress. In facilitating discourse on provocative topics, ‘safe spaces’ prove therapeutic and societal value. They allow for non-judgmental exploration of thoughts and feelings, bridging societal divides and fostering social cohesion. We must ensure these spaces promote growth and understanding, not simply comfort and echo-chamber formation. A shift towards tolerance, equanimity, and safe spaces can provide an antidote to the ills of cancel culture and intolerance, fostering a more empathetic, understanding, and harmonious society.
HERE’S THE DREAM WE ANALYZE:
“I am at my paternal uncle’s large mountain home, and all my extended family has gathered there. Everyone seems younger. My father and his two brothers are in their thirties. I don’t know what age I am. It is evening, and everyone is getting ready to go to bed when I learn that, during the night, my aunt will be arriving with our special guest: Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito. I am beside myself with joy that Tito will be visiting, and I plan to stay up late to see him and my aunt arrive. When I can hardly keep my eyes open, I see my aunt walking in the driveway, holding the elderly Yugoslav leader by the arm. Tito is wearing a long overcoat and a fur Slavic-style winter hat. Everyone has gotten up to greet him. Not only is there a nighttime gathering of drinks and snacks planned, but I see my mom arrive. She hadn’t planned on attending this event. She was younger than she is nowadays and looked different from my real mother in her twenties and thirties. I’m nonetheless glad to see her. People assemble around Old Man Tito. They begin humming the tune of Yugoslav anti-fascist partisans. I am excited and surprised that my family knows this song. I want to show my knowledge of the heroic struggle against fascism, so I begin singing another well-known song that glorifies the Partisans and Tito. Tito looks at me as I hum and, with surprising sternness, asks me if I know the words. I don’t know the Serbo-Croatian language the song is in, so I merely repeat what I think are some of the lyrics from memory. He nonetheless accepts this with a slight smile and nod. I feel more and more insignificant, like I don’t belong at the gathering and am not special compared to everyone else. I may know less than my family, which is surprising since I am the only one (as far as I know) who has taken a strong interest in Yugoslavia and European anti-fascist history. I feel more and more like a child. The dream ends as I sit back down and let the “grown-ups” and Tito do the talking.”
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