The shrug has become the great American past time. It goes by the name “tolerance,” but just maybe it means “I don’t care that much.” In ages when people fought, bled and died for what they considered great causes, there was much too much fighting, bleeding and dying. Among today’s more educated generations, that’s seen as primitive. The better way to go is to shrug wisely and say: “You believe what you believe and I’ll believe what I believe, and it will be a better world for it.”
This attitude has a good ring to it. It’s probably why institutional religions and passionate political agendas are often out of style. Still, there are voices like the 20th C philosopher G.K. Chesterton whose books have seen a resurgence along with the passionate-cause narratives of the “Narnia” and “Harry Potter” books. The same kids who shrug at so many intemperate beliefs by intemperate groups like the Tea Party, the Fundamentalists and the Vatican, fill the cineplexes to cheer the “good guys” as they passionately fight the good fight versus the “bad guys.” Why….?
Chesterton put it this way: “Tolerance is the virtue of a person without conviction.” So why then do the kids cheer good & bad in the movies, but seem to ignore their existence in their everyday world? Or do they…? Somebody must be coming to these mass events like the Papal Youth Day in Brazil, Tahrir Square in Cairo, St Peter’s in Rome, relief concerts in New York City. Why they come and why they care — that’s what the shrugers can’t shrug off….
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