• Keep Calm and be Tolerant.

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    British Gazette readers will of course be familiar with variations of the Keep Calm poster above.

    The original Keep Calm and Carry On poster was a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for the Second World War. The poster was intended to raise the morale of the British Public, threatened with widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities. Although 2.45 million copies were printed, and although the Blitz did of course take place, the poster was hardly ever publicly displayed and was little known until a copy was rediscovered in 2000 at Barter Books, a bookshop in Alnwick. It has since been re-issued by a number of private companies, and has been used as the decorative theme for a range of products. The image has gone viral on the internet and it and many variations have been used many thousands of times since. Why? Because it is a VERY good way of making a succinct point!

    Tolerance is a virtue that the politically correct like to proclaim. Indeed it has acquired an “Animal Farm” type character all of it’s own…….. “All of us are tolerant but some of us are more tolerant than others…….” This of course is an attempt to obscure and in fact to contradict the claim. This is chiefly characterised by turning the argument on it’s head with statements along the lines of, “Zero tolerance of intolerance!” or “I/We will not tolerate intolerance!”

    Now it is all very well to criticise the politically correct for this but to a greater or lesser extent we are all afflicted this way. As human beings we have beliefs and opinions and to a greater or lesser extent we can tolerate the beliefs and opinions of those whose beliefs and opinions differ. But ONLY so far!

    At the moment one of the challenges that Europe (and by Europe we mean the continent of Europe and NOT the European Union) has to face is large numbers of Muslims whose views on how life should be lived differ radically from those for example employed in organising the annual Gay Pride parade in Brighton.

    This illustrates one of the most difficult areas: religion. Religion (and there are many and varied religions on the planet) forms a central part of many peoples lives. There are of course many who believe that having a belief in a deity (or deities) is foolish, nonsensical and even delusional. Some of these atheists take to the internet and proclaim such. Of course, whether of not belief in the existence of God is foolish, nonsensical and delusional is something they will ultimately discover for themselves!

    Tolerance must however have limits. For instance, in the 1970s there was in existence a group that advocated that sexual activities with children was acceptable. We are certain that ALL British Gazette readers would regard such as completely and totally unacceptable!

    However, what is equally clear is that the boundaries of what can and can not be tolerated have to be broad. It is of course at the extremes where the trouble occurs. This is especially the case where those beliefs in question stem from a religion. A guiding principal of course should be that of reciprocity; that if we expect tolerance of our beliefs from others then we should extend the same to those others. This of course is where the problems often begin. There are many cases where those of a certain religious persuasion are convinced that theirs is the one true faith and that there is no equivalence, moral or spiritual between their beliefs (which of course they hold to be divinely correct) and the beliefs of others of “non-believers” whose opinions are either to be ignored or condemned. This is of course the cause of conflict.

    It would however be wrong to assume this is only a conflict between religions. There is just as much “certitude” amongst the secular zealots as well. Let us cite two examples which concern Christianity and the secular society in the present day UK.

    Today there is in the Christian churches much debate and dissent on two issues, gender and sexuality. First in the Church of England there is the debate about women priests. Secondly there is the debate about sexual orientation. In both cases, politicians who would label themselves as secular have sought to intervene, pontificate and pronounce judgement upon one side or the other. Many politicians have for example been strongly supportive of the ordination of women on the grounds of equality. They have also been supportive of what some describe as the “LBGT agenda” for the same reason. In both these cases they miss the point completely! The arguments made by those “conservatives” in both these cases are based on their interpretation of the Christian teachings and the Bible. Now it would be naive to assume that those such as Harriet Harman are ignorant of this.

    Let us not forget that Ms Harriet Harman is an old girl of St Paul’s Girls’ School, Hammersmith and is the niece of Elizabeth, Countess of Longford. This lady knows full well on what basis those “conservatives” hold their beliefs. It is just that for her own political reasons she has decided to ignore this.

    Tolerance means compromise. Compromise with yourself and your ambition.
    Of course the religious zealot will ask thus: “I have met an unbeliever. I have told them that [insert name of own religion] that [own religion] is the only one true faith. But they will not follow! What should I do?”
    The answer is simple: “You have made this person aware of what you hold to be true. Now leave it. If they choose not to follow your witness that is their problem. Not yours.”

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