People Who Can’t Tolerate Disagreement

Do you know someone who cannot tolerate dissension or disagreement? It can be in the context of political or philosophical views, more day-to-day concerns — or both. The inability to tolerate dissension is a confession that one’s viewpoint was formed emotionally, not rationally or objectively. If a viewpoint was formed rationally, there is no threat posed by an opposing opinion or question. The inner reaction to such an opposing opinion will be something like: “He’s mistaken. I can prove why, if it’s worth my time and if he’s interested. No threat, though.” But if a viewpoint is emotionally held, it’s another story. The inner reaction to dissension goes something like this: “I won’t be proven wrong. I can’t be proven wrong. I will not be questioned!”

Holding firm to a point-of-view is not proof that you cannot tolerate dissension. Holding firm simply means you’re convinced you’re right, you know why, and you see no reason to revisit old points of persuasion just because somebody is serving them up to you.

There are many ways someone can show they will not tolerate dissension. One is to cry. Another is to shout. Another is to calmly and cooly intimidate by getting personal. Another is to change the subject. Still another is to advocate shutting down freedom of speech in some context. There are many contexts, degrees and methods for displaying intolerance of dissent. They all spring from the same source: Emotional insecurity. The emotional insecurity, in turn, arises from a sense that one is probably wrong, and cannot accept it; or that one feels right, but cannot say why.

The least reasonable people are the ones who cannot tolerate dissent or disagreement.