The Proud Duck
Friday, November 07, 2003
The incomparable Lileks, reviewing "The Matrix Revolutions," dismantles a commentator who, in the process of providing yet another tedious layer of metaphysics to the generally-enjoyable "Matrix" trilogy, argues that the only way for there to be peace is for no one to believe in anything.
That's not a new idea, of course; remember Lennon's "Imagine."
Leaving aside the question of whether the abolition of all deeply-held beliefs would lead to pax universalis (wouldn't we still scrap over material goods, as primates have been doing since we came down from the trees?), this seems like an unworthy shortcut to a laudable goal. It reminds me of a line from Churchill's "History of the English-Speaking Peoples", written of Charles II: "He walked to the uplands of tolerance by the easy paths of indifference."
Tolerance produced by apathy is no virtue, any more than is sobriety produced by distaste for alcohol. Or for that matter, sobriety enforced by authority. To be morally praiseworthy, an act must be freely chosen, and its attractive alternative rejected. There's no glory in being "tolerant" when you just don't give a rip. Tolerance is believing something strongly yourself, and respecting others' right to believe just as strongly in its opposite.