In today’s world, we are often told that tolerance is a good thing, I disagree. Tolerance should be a good thing, but as I see it, there is an inherent judgement in the term that the dictionary definition only hints at.
  1. capacity to endure pain or hardship : endurance, fortitude, stamina

  2. a: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own
    b: the act of allowing something : toleration
  3. the allowable deviation from a standard; especially : the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension in machining a piece
When we talk about people being tolerant of others, we are usually referring to the second definition, to have sympathy or to indulge, do you not see a judgement in there? Both imply that you are allowing something lesser than yourself or position. When we say Group A should tolerate Group B the implication is that Group A is right and the other is lacking but must or should be allowed.

Strangely, this often requires the members of Group B to make use of the first definition, to endure the scorn of Group A.

Recently, in the fields of Politics and Religion, we often see the third definition employed in an attempt to negate the need for the second definition. Group A believes it has the truth or some perceived standard that should be enforced upon the rest (not that they often live up to it themselves).

So what is the alternative?

2Respect – verb
  1. a: to consider worthy of high regard : esteem
    b: to refrain from interfering with <please respect their privacy>

  2. to have reference to : concern
When others disagree with your positions, beliefs or lifestyle, do not judge them to be inferior to yourself by tolerating them, but respect them for what they believe.

In the gospels of the Christian New Testament, Jesus said to love those who persecute you, fantastic idea though rarely practiced in today’s world. You cannot love something or someone you do not respect, so tolerating others is to demean them.

You may not agree for whatever reason, but not only is that difference what is supposed to make the United States so great, but if you respect vs tolerate their opinions, you leave an open space to discuss those differences. What an idea, an opportunity to learn, to grow and to better one’s self through expanding your frame of reference.

So Respect differences, not Tolerate them.

Written by R. A. Burgener

After finishing the 850 mile trek of self-rediscovery on California's El Camino Real from San Diego to Sonoma, California, Robert continued, via Greyhound, to Portland, Oregon, where he is becoming familiar with the concepts of weather and seasons after 30 years in Los Angeles.

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