Why Tolerance Works

When I was in my teens I could cruise any major street in Southern California and stop for a hamburger. Now I can stop for Mexican food, Middle Eastern food, Chinese food, sushi, Indian food, Thai food, Italian food, vegan food … or I can have a hamburger. Though more crowded now, this place is a lot more interesting. The infusion and inclusion of other cultures doesn’t make me feel any less “American” than I was before their introduction. The people who added this variety to my life feel as much an “American” as I. Tolerance and inclusion in our society has made things better on balance.

Museum of Tolerance opened on October 2010 designed by Arditti RDT architects. Entrance to the museum.

I am a Scientologist and a Catholic (no, the two are not mutually exclusive). The best man at my wedding is an agnostic, non-practicing Jew. Though he puts on a show of being a cynical joker, he's one of the most decent, kind and generous men I have ever known. We engage in friendly debates, each trying to out-argue and out-joke the other, but that’s because we have earned each other’s respect. We can listen to each other’s viewpoints and, in them, find something we can each use in our own lives.

There is no escape from Survival-of-the-Fittest. Any new element added to a society must add value in order to last. Any older element of society must continue to add equal or greater value to continue surviving. In the United States, Asian cultures have raised educational standards. Our entertainment industry is a direct descendant of Ashkenazi Jewish theater. The steel industry which allowed the U.S. to win WWII and become a world power was started by German immigrants during the formation of this country. African American music dominates throughout the world. The list goes on.

After all the special interest-funded attacks and repeated lies, Scientology is still around because it has added benefit to our real-world society—not the false, warped, exaggerated, movie and media-created illusion of society—but the real society we all actually live in. It’s a society where the vast majority of people of different backgrounds, faiths, cultures and races live side-by-side peacefully, exchanging the good things they have with the good things had by others.

Scientology is still around because it helps people. Some (like me) become better students, get off drugs, run better businesses, create better art, raise better children, become smarter, and most grow happier all around. Over several decades as a Scientologist, I have seen elements of Scientology move into various parts of society and popular speech. Every now and then some pop psychologist trying to make his academic bones will plagiarize some part of L. Ron Hubbard’s work and use it as his or her own discovery.

On the other side of the coin, and repeated throughout history, are examples of intolerance toward one element of society, bringing the entire society crashing down. Romans tortured Christians, ended up invaded, then finally became Christians themselves. The Spanish Church tortured and barbecued scientists until it eventually became overwhelmed and out-performed by science. Slavery and the war to end it wiped out the Southern states for well over a century. Nazi intolerance brought about the firebombing of Dresden—killing more people than the atomic bomb—and the near-complete destruction of Germany. Intolerance destroys or stagnates nearly every society where it prevails.

In past centuries, some people and cultures might have gotten away with a little intolerance and bigotry. There was lots of space in which to escape the consequences. From here on out, there will be no escape.

When barbarous societies of the past learned to tolerate the great religions, civilization became possible. When religions learned to tolerate science, the quality of life skyrocketed. Yet the continued practice of the virtues of religion which hold civilization together—perfection, beauty, love, compassion, honesty, fairness, etc.—benefits everyone. Without it, there is no civilization, no science, no art. Only barbarism.

When I was born there were 2 billion people on the planet. By the time I make my exit, there will be about 8 billion. A fourfold increase in about 80 years. Less than a century. Keep doing the math and you’ll see what the world is in for. Those eight billion people are going to have to get real smart, real quick.

In past centuries, some people and cultures might have gotten away with a little intolerance and bigotry. There was lots of space in which to escape the consequences. From here on out, there will be no escape. Practicing bigotry will be a lot like breaking wind in an elevator. Everyone will suffer.

Rodger Clark
Contractor, history buff, compulsive learner, currently in recovery from authoritarian education.