Coexist for thee, but not for me
From a friend:
There are four cars with “Coexist” bumper stickers on our block. The funny thing is, each one is on a car belonging to a member of a divorced couple. My neighbors are telling the religions of the world that they need to learn to live together, when these people can’t even live with the one person that they were married to.
I’m all for peaceable relations among religions, but boy do I hate that bumper sticker. Every time I see it, I think that the person driving that car is probably an insufferable, intolerant, and heavily tattooed Mrs. Jellyby, Dickens’s “telescopic philanthropist” who is so busy trying to reform the far-off heathens that she neglects her own family. People like, well, my friend’s neighbors.
UPDATE: Great comment from Niall Gooch in the discussion thread:
It’s interesting, this tension between wanting to be involved in grand moral projects and actually getting our own moral house in order. Some of the most unkind, intolerant, self-centred people I know are also those who are most enthusiastic about grand moral abstractions. As William Blake put it, ”He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars. General Good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite and flatterer” (I’ve seen this rendered more prosaically as “everyone wants to save the rainforest, no-one wants to wash the dishes”).
We all have a lot to learn from GK Chesterton’s famous response to the question “what’s wrong with the world?”; the unbeatably succinct and accurate “I am”. The boring reality is that for the majority of people, the single most effective thing we can do to make the world a better place is to undergo the long, hard work of cultivating the virtues in our own lives.