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Hateful Silence

What's great about modern tolerance is that we're rarely confronted with negative judgments about our personal choices (notwithstanding the resultingly elevated sensitivity to negative judgments, which makes some people perceive a growth of "hate"). However, one of the unfortunate consequences of tolerance is that people don't give advice like they used to. Today the consensus among civilized people is to never give advice unless it is requested, and even then the entire exercise should be nullified with a "do whatever you think is best…" Advice that ends with a warm affirmation of any path whatsoever is not advice at all.

If someone has more experience than me, and they believe they are wise, and they have a considered reason to believe they understand something that I don't — then they should tell me what they believe I should do. And they should insist that I do it, despite whatever I may think is best.

Giving strong advice is not "disrespecting my freedom:" I am only maturely free if I can make my own decisions in the face of strong advice. To criticize the presumption of strong advice-giving on the grounds that it disrespects the freedom of others betrays a hidden disrespect for the other, a belief that the other is not capable of freedom.

To not give advice one is in a position to give is a profound, if invisible, declaration of hostility toward the potential advisee, a strangely hateful comfort with watching another person walk off a cliff. True advice, intolerant advice, although it is sometimes cruel and judgmental and oppressive, is, ironically, an index of care. The decline of true advice-giving does not reflect social progress or humane enlightenment, but rather the generalization of the hostis down to lower and lower levels of interpersonal relating.

We dislike that others might know best what we ourselves should do, so we train them to hate us — and call it respect.

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