If we were to be crude about personality, bringing it down to just two traits, we could see that there are inclusive thinkers and exclusive thinkers.
An inclusive thinker considers the words ‘and’ and ‘both’ to be at the top of their vocabulary. An exclusive thinker, on the other hand, thinks more in terms of ‘either’ and ‘or’ (one or the other—not both). The inclusive thinker holds well the tensions between competing priorities, but they possibly accommodate too much blur between values. The exclusive thinker, conversely, is decisive regarding their view, but they can be intolerant of others’ views.
The truth is each of us is more inclusive or more exclusive in our thinking, most of the time, but there are times when we are specifically inclusive or purposely exclusive.
This is the task of wisdom to know when to be inclusive and when to be exclusive.
How Accommodating Or Tolerant Are We?
Sitting on a fine point is a balancing beam of wisdom that finds us neither too accommodating nor not accommodating enough. Of course, we are called to get the balance right, but we struggle maintaining such a balance.
There are times when we are called to hold important tensions between disparate matters—e.g., the need to stay in a job we don’t like in order to feed our families, or when we agree or disagree with both sides of an argument. Holding the tensions is our only option.
But there are also times when we are called to draw a line in the sand and commit to a course of action, and, in doing so, disregard and reject other options. On certain moral or ethical grounds we take sides, because of whom we are and who we have become.
I think I am more naturally the inclusive thinker—the sort of person that possibly tolerates too much. For people like me it is good to be discerning, and be prepared to act on such discernment by being more positively decisive.
We can take tolerance too far, but in our world—as a society—especially as we see through the press media, we are usually found to be not tolerant enough. The opposite negative is postmodernism has broadened our tolerance in the wrong way—we tolerate the wrong sort of ambiguity, where ‘the truth’ is often blurred.
Whether we are more inclusive thinkers or exclusive thinkers is a moot point. The real benefit is in the self-awareness; to know when it’s right to think inclusively and exclusively is the key.
Tolerance is a commendable attribute, but like all good things it can be taken too far. But it’s often better to be too tolerant than not tolerant enough.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.