Home > Expression, liberty, Tolerance > Tolerance: A consequence of accepting relative morality

Tolerance: A consequence of accepting relative morality

The other day I was reading Peter McWilliam’s Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do which talks about consensual crimes. I have always found it challenging to know what is immoral, and what is illegal. Immorality cannot be the reason to put a person behind bars, it cannot be the basis for the legal system of a country characterized by diversity and law cannot be the source of defining morality.Our country has many religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Zoroastrian, Judaism, Christianity etc. Every person adheres to some religion and most of the times forms it as the basis of defining morality. For a Christian, drinking on Christmas might be a way to celebrate but a Hindu(strictly speaking) will abstain from drinking during Diwali. A person, however, has no reason to look down upon the other person because he does not adhere to his own personal morality. Drinking or not drinking has nothing to do with character of a person. It is important to know one thing: Never Enforce Morality. This has its own benefits.

Firstly, it teaches us to live our lives by our own morality – whatever the source of defining this morality would be. An individual has to survive in the society and so his definitions will be formed with society in his subconscious. The one who chooses to go against it – like say killing a horse, roasting it and then consuming it (in India) – the society will very well banish him. Perhaps the biggest benefit of this is tolerance. If we learn to accept the other’s religion and realize that morality is relative, and not judge the other person with one’s own morality: we have learnt tolerance. Tolerance is the way for peace, love and harmony. It is acceptance of others, acceptance of all religions: a path towards unprejudiced mind and humanity, the only religion worth following.

However, it doesn’t work this way.

Individuals enforce morality. Omnivorous, drunkards, smokers become characterless. They kill people for they do not follow their morality. How do they differentiate between these self-created immoral criminals, and murderers, thieves, robbers, rapists, capital criminals, cheaters, liars etc who (might) question the existence of other person?

I think, if something harms other person’s existence or his property (Capital punishment) it is illegal. In India, morality still forms the basis of its judiciary system. It is a cost of liberty. I wish people were more responsible, then we would have a clear line between immorality and illegality. We live with prejudices, we need law to contain individual liberty and we need law to define morality.

It is a pity and shame that we cannot learn tolerance.

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Categories: Expression, liberty, Tolerance
  1. Vamsi
    January 30, 2007 at 11:23 am

    More we read the daily news and events, the more we are convinced that intolerance drives most of the hateful human behaviour. I agree with your opinion about religious intolerance that is prevalent in India and elsewhere. My Master says that Tolerance is the greatest spiritual quality. Most often intolerance is consciously expressed whereas there are situations where human behaviour is detrimental to present and future social health. In such cases it is not good to tolerate, rather, one should react to the situation as early and thoughtfully as possible. Yes, we should avert being intolerant towards some behaviour that doesn’t confirm to our personal or religious definition of Morality.

    – Vamsi

  2. Shefali
    January 30, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    …..whereas there are situations where human behaviour is detrimental to present and future social health

    Well, I was wondering about some points regarding that. Will write another post when I am more clear about some of my doubts.

    Yes, it is important to define the limit of tolerance. I remember what I recently read by Frost: A civilized society is the one that tolerates eccentricity to the point of doubtful sanity.(Took me hell of a time to understand this)

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