Tolerance: A Lost Virtue        

Tue Feb 06 2024
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Sikandar Noorani

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A close friend of mine is really worried about growing impatience in society. His concern is genuine and merits lot of deliberation.   Few days back during a routine traffic jam at a busy road, an exchange of harsh words between two drivers suddenly turned into a violent fistfight. A simple matter, which could be resolved easily by giving some road space to each other eventually wasted about half an hour of both the contestants and numerous commuters entangled behind their vehicles. Both had to retreat with bleeding nose and lips after ugly fight. Many of us observe such unusual episodes in public places on daily basis, where dispute can be avoided easily with a lenient response.


Rapid evaporation of tolerance from society has started snatching the mental peace. Deterioration in societal behaviors is more than abnormal and its dangerous outcomes are unspeakable. What else could be so shocking than murder of a son by his own father? Two weeks ago, an annoyed father murdered his son for hoisting the flag of a political party on house roof which he disliked. This heart wrenching incident took place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and off-course pushed the entire family in the quagmire of permanent pain.

Who can forget the inhuman murder of Noor Muqaddam in the hands of none other than a close family friend? Shockingly, an educated, financially well-off, grown up and apparently mature man from elite class reacted like a beast.



Before passing generalized comments on any particular segment of the society, let’s admit dispassionately that aggression or intolerance is no more exclusive to any specific cadre. Killer father was an uneducated man in his sixties and belonged to lower middle class.  Scuffling drivers were in their 40s and represented middle class of our society. Zahir Jafer, the notorious killer of Noor Muqaddam, belongs to the elite class. We need to ponder that why the tolerance threshold is sliding down rapidly?

Frequent recurrences of violent incidences are signs of alarming shifts in societal behaviors. Persistence of such abnormalities are not good for the society in the longer run. There is a dire need to objectively sanitize the society from the creeping menace of intolerance. Few relevant aspects merit specific attention to find out the appropriate remedies. How this damage has occurred? What is the extent of damage? Which part of the society is more affected? And how this collective behavioral bug can be effectively treated?

Undeniably, deep impact of various media platforms is one of the root causes of growing intolerance and impatient behavior in society. Gradual digitalization of media platforms and enhanced outreach through cyber means has taken large number of subscribers in its loop. Entertainment without any moral check through the mushrooming TV channels has played its peculiar role in triggering a behavioral disorder.

However, enormous impact of distasteful talk shows in spoiling the collective behavior of society is beyond any doubt. Prevailing low standard of political discourse in so-called current affairs shows introduced a meaningful term of ‘Infotainment’. Inconclusive rhetorical verbal bouts between spokespersons of all brands of political parties has become a kind addiction which keeps the audience glued with screens. Most of these talk shows revolve around toxic allegations, verbosity, baseless claims, over exaggeration of fabricated narratives, sensational controversies and unauthentic victimhood stories. Irony is that so-called party leaders are the biggest contributor in this toxic game of hateful verbosity, revengeful policies and non-flexible intolerant stances.  Growing intolerance is the outcome of discreet but gradual penetration of these negative traits in the societal roots.


Youth is the prime victim of uncalled for misconduct of the self-style top tier leadership. Youth have been witnessing on daily basis, their role model leaders entangled in personalized arguments far away from the statecraft and issues of public interests. Wittingly or unwittingly, raw young brains have adopted the intolerant behavior and its toxic impact can be felt from highly unreasonable activism on social media platforms in the garb of freedom of expression. Abusive remarks to a differing opinion on public platform like twitter reflects intolerance and low moral fiber.

Tolerance must not be misunderstood with compulsory acceptance of unacceptable violation. Tolerance has to be in response to something wrong or negative. Obviously, a non-violent decent response to avoid the undesired distractive situation. Polarizing politics, sectarianism, hyper ethno-nationalism and misinterpreted extremist ideologies can do nothing good except creating momentary ripples in a society like ours. Hollow verbosity and populist sloganeering have charged the energetic youth against the political opponents without any actionable plan.

Shattered dreams of disappointed youth are also contributing to growing intolerance in society. Political jugglers responsible for governance failure and unfulfilled promises have taken usual refuge behind victimhood rhetoric leaving the blind followers in the eye of storm.   Perpetuating toxicity can only be treated with the acceptance of bitter truth and gradual change of track from violence to rationale based tolerant behavior.


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