Growth in wisdom may be exactly measured by decrease in bitterness.
I am one of those who, with many others, has a respect for other people's firmly held beliefs as long as thy are positive, constructive and progressive, be they political, religious or philosophical. As a child I was influenced, as most youngsters are, by the traditional beliefs of the family I lived in. And in my case there was no discussion or disagreement allowed. It was the truth and that was that. A wise person once said "Respect those who seek the truth, beware of those who find it."
Some people's ideas are just plain stupid, but growing up and getting to know people of other beliefs, influences and traditions I was struck by how diverse and complex the world is. To live in harmony with people without losing my own sense of what I thought was right and true I had to develop a tolerance for others' opinions.
But then one day I read an essay for a radio program on ethics which challenged the idea of tolerance. It taught me that to tolerate an opposing idea of right thinking and behavior was to start from the basis of my own unchallenged convictions. The other fellow was wrong and therefore his opinions must be tolerated.
It's true that without tolerance arguments ensue. It's a shameful thing to witness one seeker for truth who is convinced he has found it defensively putting down another seeker for truth. And if they are both convinced they are right and try to convert each other the argument either becomes comical or it leads to war. And as Nietzsche points out where there is bitterness there is no wisdom.
As a result of reading that essay I began to stop thinking of myself as a tolerant person and went looking for something better. The better is to acknowledge that my opinions, beliefs and faith are mine based upon my early influences, my thinking, my research and my life experiences. To realize they are not going to go through any radical change as long as they are honestly held. To understand that the search for truth is an infinite, eternal process and that if another sincere seeker has a different path than mine his journey must be respected. The differences are far less important than the wisdom gained.
There used to be a Museum of Philosophy in New York. There was a computer there that asked you a whole set of questions about your beliefs and opinions. It wasn't a test; you weren't graded. But when you finished and pressed "enter" it gave you a list of a few philosophers who agreed with you. Now, whereas it's nice and cozy to have your own opinions reinforced by thinkers who are more articulate than you are, I was more interested in those who disagreed with me, so I started reading works by people who weren't on the list. And what happened? Behold, a few of them changed my mind about things. I gained some wisdom.
New Improved Weekend Puzzle
Straighten out these titles please.