Tolerance for other opinions

It is the most extraordinary thing that nobody nowadays really ever listens to anybody else. Is it ever possible to start a sentence without someone interrupting to state his own view of the matter, with a resultant clash of opinion? It is a fundamental characteristic of modern civilization that nobody listens, that nobody respects anyone’s opinion but his own, and that those who do not share his opinions are looked upon as dunces.

But when a person expresses an opinion, my dear friends, it is a human being’s opinion, no matter how foolish we may think it, and we must be able to accept it, to listen to it. […]

If one has acquired a little wisdom, one even takes pleasure in hearing people say something foolish, if you will forgive my putting it so bluntly. One sometimes finds such stupidities cleverer than the things people of an average degree of cleverness say, because they often issue from a far greater humanness than underlies the average cleverness of the average of clever people. An ever deepening insight into the world increases one’s interest in human foolishness, for these things look different at differing world levels. The stupidities of a person who may seem a fool to clever people in the ordinary physical world can, under certain circumstances, reveal things that are wisdom in a different world, even though the form they take may be twisted and caricatured.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 257 – Awakening to Community – Dornach, 4th March 1923

Translated by Marjorie Spock