We Canadians are about to vote in the imminent national election, and many of us are rather desperate to find leaders and parties to support with anything like enthusiasm. A lot of us seem to be clearer about whom and what we don’t like than about whom and what we do.
Here, therefore, is one good question to ask: Which leader and party seem most prepared to live with, and even work with, those they don’t like?
These are bad days for tolerance. To be sure, they’re much better days than many other countries in the world are experiencing, and they’re better than many days in Canada’s past as well. Our society, however, seems to be souring on the very idea of tolerance. “Affirmation!” we cry, since it’s such a positive word. And yet affirmation draws a much smaller circle than does tolerance. Tolerance is, in fact, the more expansive, more accommodating word.
One can look south for intolerance and see our American cousins coming apart yet again in anticipation of what may be in 2020 the most polarized election in a generation. “Zero tolerance” is everywhere, it seems.
Meanwhile in Britain, a panel of judges recently upheld the firing of an experienced Christian physician for refusing to promise that he would use feminine pronouns for a large, bearded man simply because that man indicated his preference for a female identity.
According to the New York Times, the tribunal decided that “belief in Genesis 1:27, lack of belief in transgenderism and conscientious objection to transgenderism in our judgment are incompatible with human dignity and conflict with the fundamental rights of others, specifically here, transgender individuals.” Thus traditional Christian ethics were ruled out of court as literally intolerable.
Meanwhile, Quebec has its discriminatory Bill 21, Ontario has its colleges of lawyers and physicians who refuse to countenance conscientious objection, and all of us have a Supreme Court that nods toward religious freedom only to set it aside when it conflicts with the reigning orthodoxy of post-Christian liberal secularism.
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