We Depend Upon The Tolerance Of Others

If you infuriate people, they will retaliate. No man is an island. We depend upon others. If you antagonize people, they will make your life hell and drive you out.

To live a good life, we need the tolerance of most people around us. If you get into a situation where a large number of the people around you want you gone, they’ll likely make your life so miserable that you leave.

One part of living honestly is gauging the tolerance of people around you and not engaging in behavior and speech that infuriate them. I like saying tasteless and shocking things, but I don’t spew this out to everyone. I’m highly selective. Only those people who laugh and enjoy me get to hear this bad boy side.

I don’t think America in 2020 is a dystopian nightmare. There has never been a society where saying certain truths out loud would not get you in big trouble. So if you can’t get your satire past the censor, it’s lousy satire.

Conflict and negotiation are tiring. Most disagreements get resolved according to the dominance hierarchy aka reality. Don’t fight reality. Stay in your lane. Dennis Prager often told me, “Is it your place in this situation to speak up?” The strong inference was that it was not.

My favorite moral litmus test is — how would this look if it were accurately reported on the front page of the New York Times?

V. K. Overlund writes:

An instructor of ten years at a state university in the U.S., I recently got fired, too, for analogous reasons. In my case, however, all I had done is to ask undergraduates to kindly speak English in the classroom.

I had no history of trouble (I cannot prove this to you, of course, so you may judge my pseudonymous credibility for yourself). My boss tried hard to save my job. Colleagues tried, too; but the dean, who had otherwise practically never heard of me, wanted me gone, so out I went.

My family’s sole breadwinner, I still have four children living at home. The dean didn’t care. I had been unmasked as insufficiently enthusiastic for the Revolution, I suppose. Maybe, since I am white, non-Jewish and normal, and had never talked politics at work, I was suspected of voting for Trump. Who knows?

I had naïvely believed that having friends throughout my department, lacking enemies (excepting the usual ratio of undergraduates temporarily angry over poor grades), and consistently keeping my problems off the department head’s desk would save me. Before the age of Resistance Against Trump, it probably would have saved me. No longer.

I had received no warning. The dean had given no hint. No one had asked me to modify my behavior until, suddenly, Bang! Fired. Your career is dead.

The university even formally avoided firing me, since they had no actual cause. They just eliminated my position, created two other, putatively unrelated positions which just happened to cover my duties, hired nonwhites to fill the positions and … well, if you want to know the Machiavellian details of how they insulated themselves against a lawsuit, you can ask. In short, the maneuver was a disgusting betrayal of a loyal, competent, well-liked, understated, longtime member of the team.

Winegard writes:

“My situation might strike you as trivial and insignificant. And, indeed, I am insignificant. But my firing is not.”

Indeed. Readers do not know me or Winegard. I am even less significant than Winegard is and, anyway, you have your own problems. The point however is that, as matters stand, you, too, can be ruined for insufficient enthusiasm for the Revolution; and even if you are not, when you send your kids to college, you may be committing them to the care of a faculty (a) from which non-Revolutionary instructors and professors like me and Winegard have been systematically purged and (b) within which the suavest, most ardent Revolutionaries have clawed their way to the top.

If that’s not okay with you, then you might look for a chance to do something about it.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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