Thursday, November 09, 2006

to tolerate or not to tolerate, that is the question

When I was writing my MA dissertation, one of the things I became aware of, was the way in which whether you call the activity I do 'youth work' or 'youth ministry', it's really all concerned with the same thing - the passing on of a set of values from one generation to the next.

Whether those values are passed on explicitly, through what we say, or implicitly, through the way we act and relate to people, (one of)the aim(s) is undoubtedly to pass on a certain set of values.

In recent weeks, this notion of different sets of values has come back into the forefront of my mind. With so much talk in the media about those groups in society who we feel threatened by, and the alledged negative influence of religion, it seems to be the case that secularism is being promoted as a more healthy, inoffensive, all-round-nice way of thinking. But surely, or is it just me, secularism is equally a fixed worldview, with it's own set of values, just as is Christianity or Islam. Isn't it?

It seems to me, to be a worldview which says, other worldviews and other sets of values, are not as good as this one. I just don't get it. It seems hypocritical.

What also seems hypocritical, is those who promote tolerance, but in reality mean, we are tolerant of anybody so long as they themselves are tolerant. One issue which I found myself questioning at Greenbelt was the view which seemed to be saying 'we're inclusive of anybody, so long as they're not evangelicals'. This is just like saying, 'we're inclusive of anybody, so long as they themselves conform to our view of inclusivity'. This seems odd.

Surely we have to recognise, do we not, that we are all affected by values, we cannot escape them. None of us is value free. We are all shaped by the societies, cultures, and experiences in which, and through which, we have journeyed. Similarly, the worldviews to which we subscribe, and the sets of values we adopt, they too are not value neutral, they have been formed, shaped and influenced over time.

Surely, if we acknowledge the role of values in our lives, and the way in which those sets of values have been formed, it is a more helpful approach to consider 'how then do i relate to someone who holds different values to me' rather than saying 'that set of values is not as good as mine'.

Does what I have written make sense to anybody outside of my head?


Nick Shepherd said...

Alistair McIntyre in After Virtue talks about how all vaules are located in specific communal frameworks. However, this doesn't stop them being comparable or even drawn upon if you're outside of the originating group - it happens all the time.

Any way this poor contribution is really only a way of asking for your email address as I would likt to read your dissertation!!

Let me know, I promise to add more of my own confusing thoughts to this thread if you do!!

Nick Shepherd
Series Editor Youthwork the Resources

Phil Goodacre said...

I'm trusting that you're going to check back here to find my email address.


pgoodacre [at] bigfoot [dot] com

With no spaces in.

I'll delete this once you have emailed me an address I can send the dissertation to.