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We don't need more tolerance

Do you watch movies and listen to music that you don't really like but you don't really hate either?

Do you hang out with friends that you don't really like but don't really hate either?

Do you read books?

Do you work at a job?

Do you eat food?

No matter what we do, we tend to see a bell curve in the distribution of how we feel about these things that we do. At one end of the bell curve, there are things that we absolutely hate, but still do, because of obligations. These are very few in number.

As we progress along the curve to the middle, there are many things that we aren't really passionate about, in a positive or negative way, but yet we do them. Sometimes because we are bored, but mostly out of inertia. These are not active choices that we make, but things that we have tolerated over time that has crept into our lives. And as move to the other end of the curve, there are things that we are really passionate about and enjoy doing, which are also few in number.

We are always looking to change the curve to have more things that we are passionate about and lesser things that we tolerate and close to none of what we don't like.

But sometimes, we get into a rut, when all we seem to be doing are things that we aren't really passionate about. Only things we tolerate. And this is the point when we feel like we need a spark in our lives. This is the point when we try to shake things up a bit and change the routine, like go on a vacation to the Mediterranean.

The isolationism and the fear of other cultures and immigrants that we are seeing today in most parts of the world, has this as a basis.

I see a lot of discourse on the need for greater tolerance and acceptance. But the reactions that we have seen over the last year in the US and the UK and other parts of Europe has not come from intolerant people. These are the very same people that voted Obama to power four years ago and eight years ago before they voted Trump to power. These were previously tolerant people.

Until they felt they were in a rut and needed a spark. And they found that spark in Donald Trump.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author of The Black Swan, puts across an interesting theory about intolerance. If a small minority of people are intolerant while a majority are tolerant, the minority way of life prevails.

He gives several examples for this. Four percent of the US eat halal/kosher while seventy percent of the restaurants serve halal/kosher food. McDonald's thrives not because it serves great food, but it is a safe option for a group of people with varied tastes to go to.

Taking the example of the halal/kosher experience, majority of the population is tolerant while a minority is intolerant. Majority of the population doesn't care whether the meat is halal/kosher or not, while a minority won't eat at a restaurant that doesn't serve halal/kosher. So, naturally restaurants start serving halal/kosher in order to not lose out on the four percent business while not affecting the business that they already have. End result, seventy percent restaurants serve halal/kosher food.

My theory is that those who have grown intolerant how done so because they see a lot around them that they tolerate, but aren't really passionate about.

What we need is not more tolerance, but an openness to embrace and be passionate about what each other has to offer.

Without that common ground, I only see isolationism prevailing and growing.

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