On Tolerance

Equality Does Not Tolerate Tolerance

Alexandre Vachon
Opinions Editor

The world kept turning on the three-hundred-and-fifty-second anniversary of Jean Calas’ horrific death on the wheel. As the French people of Toulouse gazed at literary activism’s most important event unfold, the world also kept turning.

On March 10th, 2016 I spent my morning reading Aleksander Hemon’s The Book of My Lives, and the world kept on turning. As I questioned identity and the ideal of tolerance, South-Sudanians were still fleeing their country in their skeletal skinny bodies, slowly drying as the sun sentenced them to death in the middle of nowhere and no-care. As I questioned multiculturalism, the goal of modern tolerance, I fell to nostalgia, and reminisced of my naive beholding of tolerance. As the world kept turning, I thought of Fred Hampton’s cold dead body flowing dark red blood on the pure white mattress, cleansing the purity of mattress material by the grace of J. Edgar Hoover’s grasp on the Federal Bureau. Did Hampton disrupt the idea of tolerance? Did his young twenty-one years threaten the foundation of tolerance to the point he had to be executed in his slumber? It didn’t matter, black blood flows as red as when the world turned; his blood flowed red, and the world kept turning.

Source: Wikimedia
Source: Wikimedia

As Jean Calas’ body rotated, so did Voltaire’s mind, leading him to the virtues of tolerance. We, as a society, evolved and kept the principle, callously believing that tolerance would suffice in terms of societal progression. The world kept turning and time went on, faced with the immense differences within a society, much more than Voltaire’s candid tolerance could ever fathom; multiculturalism became the modern preset of tolerance. People would now tolerate others for the sake of believing in multiculturalism. However, that is impossible; multiculturalism is impossible within our values. Nonetheless, assimilation and segregation would destine the world to worst.

Tolerance, by definition, underlines the act of an us tolerating an other. The precedence in the us is the same precedence of the world turning, as it stands still for others. The us can tolerate the world standing still for the other, since that is their world. Thus, multiculturalism does not insinuate any we, but more so one us and many other-s. Voltaire asked for his fellow us to accept the other, yet with so many other-s, the us stands on the pedestal, while all the other-s are othered by one us. If the us invites them to live with us, the other is still living with us. The us holds the power of ‘letting’ them live with us. Thus, the other does not even hold the power to live with themselves, they are always living with the us. Society will not prosper if the world can stand still for many, while there is always a world that keeps turning; the other will never live on it, they will live with it. No equality exists in living in groups, in multiculturalism, but more so in a unified we. An equality of living, not living with each other, but a unity an all living.

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