What is the root of Intolerance?

From a neuroscience perspective intolerance is driven by a primal fear response.

This fear originates in a part of the brain called the limbic system. That’s where the amygdala (which handles the fight, flight or freeze response) is situated. When some thing or someone is different from what has been populated into your subconscious mind that’s scary, or uncomfortable. The less a person has tried to add experiences to their own subconscious mind, the less open they are to other ways of doing or seeing things. We call it closed minded.

What is the root of Intolerance?

From a philosophical perspective, Gandhi defied seven deadly sins of intolerance:

  1. Intolerance is a personal failure to accept reality
  2. Intolerance is a failure of intelligence
  3. Intolerance is an error of judgment about Ultimate Truth
  4. Intolerance is an error which breeds psychological disorder
  5. Intolerance is an error which breeds social disorder
  6. Intolerance is an error which breeds political disorder
  7. Intolerance is a pragmatic failure: it doesn’t work

I disagree on the failure of intelligence. It is a failure of curiosity. Very smart people are intolerant, however they are usually cowards, and too scared to be open to beliefs or ideas they don’t understand.

The solution is very simple, but often quite uncomfortable; replace judgement with curiosity. 

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  1. Michael Dortch on July 9, 2020 at 11:34 pm

    In my life experience, fear has come In two primary flavors, aligned with nature’s “fight-or-flight” response: galvanizing (“fight”) and paralyzing (“flight.”) Galvanizing fear motivates us to face the fear, while paralyzing fear stuns us into inaction, or flight, or both. Sometimes, the only difference, and the only thing I’8 found that can catalyze the transformation of paralyzing fear into galvanizing fear, is knowledge. Knowledge demystifies the unknown,and helps us remember how we’ve dealt with similar situations previously. Where fear is concerned, knowledge is definitely power.

    Thanks for some great insights into an important subject!

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