“Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.”
~ G. K. Chesterton
Advocates hail tolerance as a supreme virtue in our culture today. The idea is that we should accept everything around us (socially, economically, culturally, or fiscally) regardless of the consequences. But when we build a society based on acceptance of everything, what we end up with is a society that stands for nothing, falls for anything and, ultimately, loses everything.
Tolerance is certainly not all bad — the recognition of our differences opens the door to debate and real solutions are born from the tension created by diverse perspectives. That said, tolerance becomes a danger when it summarily rejects any voice of dissension and allows us to become gradually desensitized to the potentially damaging consequences of a limitless, ‘anything-goes’ mentality.
Said another way, tolerance hinders us when it leads us to believe or do things that simply don’t make sense, which succinctly describes our elected representatives. Politicians have become desensitized to the power and responsibility they wield, and we pay the price in the form of out-of-control spending, a deficit in the trillions, and legislative actions that result more from back-room power-brokering than anything resembling what is truly best for America. Their bad behavior, left unchecked by our high level of tolerance, has resulted in a deceitful and unruly Congress and White House that have failed to deliver productive results for many years.
Most people, regardless of their political leanings, realize that we cannot continue writing blank checks to feed ever-expanding government programs that threaten personal freedoms.
Just as one cannot embrace personal choice without personal accountability, we cannot relinquish our individual responsibility to the government without relinquishing our freedoms to that same authority. WE must reject oppressive government intervention. We want to be free to make our own choices, take our own risks, and achieve our own successes. Most importantly, we don’t want compulsory government dictates and unbridled spending, which is the current dogma of American government.
However, we must recognize the challenges we face that Friedrich Hayek articulated in The Road to Serfdom:
“It is one of the saddest spectacles of our time to see a great democratic movement support a policy which must lead to the destruction of democracy and which meanwhile can benefit only a minority of the masses who support it.”
Hayek recognized that the more government does for us under the false pretense of it being “free,” the easier it would be for individuals to succumb to government control and lose their freedom. The words of economist Frederic Bastiat ring true:
“Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone.”
WE young people must remain active and relevant in the political arena as long as uncontrollable spending, spiraling debt, and oppressive government intervention plague our future. These will impede on our personal liberty and future prosperity. Consequently, we must not tolerate it. It is our job as the future hope of America to persuade Washington that these are not characteristics of American Exceptionalism. WE expect more of our government and WE will demand it.