Thursday, 27 April 2017
Some people are so attached to a single world-view that they are unable to consider any alternative to it. Alternatives are not only argued against but, more fundamentally, not understood. A former friend once asked me, "What does tolerance mean? Does it mean that you don't care what people think?" I told a political activist that my trade union branch secretary had given me advice ("You must not carry this problem around with you") that parallelled the advice that I would have received from a Buddhist monk. The activist replied, "No, Nigel bases his advice on his political philosophy, not on Buddhism!" Of course, I had said that Nigel's advice parallelled, not that it was based on, a Buddhist perspective but my argumentative activist was determined to deny any value in Buddhism and any parallel between it and a secularist philosophy. I once said that all states should be secular, therefore no state should be Jewish, and was taken to advocate a Muslim state!
These culpable misunderstandings are not as problematic as a Church Universal and Triumphant but they are not helpful either. The very first requirement of any dialogue is to understand the other person.