Big difference between tolerance and respect
Published: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 15, 2013 22:09
Tolerance is a word we use when we talk about accepting people’s different views, perspectives, cultures, lifestyles and races, among other things. Although it’s used with good intentions, the word “tolerance” seems to imply that differences among people are troublesome. It’s like saying we “put up with it.”
It’s actually kind of demeaning when you read between the lines. Instead of choosing to use the word “respect,” we often choose to use the word “tolerance” to demonstrate how accepting we are to different cultures and races, which is puzzling when you really think about it.
Instead of saying that you tolerate someone or something, you might as well just embrace bigotry. You can either embrace predispositions or learn to fix them, converting your tolerance to true respect.
We even tend to see people who claim to be against bigotry use the world tolerance constantly. We are all guilty of this too. Even the so called “social liberals.” (Hooray! You’re not sexist, xenophobic or racist. Would you like a medal?)
Many proponents of social justice movements these days perpetuate the idea that we are all the same, but being truly socially liberal means accepting that we are all unique and different and that’s just fine. It also means to have respect for our differences, not just choosing to “tolerate” them — tolerating something is not welcoming or respecting it. It is, as mentioned earlier, “putting up” with something.
The more you think about it the more the word “tolerance” comes off as demeaning and even disrespectful, despite its best intentions.
Other cultures and lifestyles are not something to just tolerate. They are something to accept, respect and fully acknowledge.
Coming to grips with this is quite difficult for most people, but doing so can give someone a clearer understanding of reality and how to interact with that reality.
Respect is a bit different when we are speaking about things like political views, but again, one can respect opposing views while acknowledging their own.
You may not necessarily have to welcome these opposing views, but acknowledging and respecting them is essential to not only understanding different perspectives, but being able to have mature dialogue about the issues.
This not only helps you understand the opposing views, but also helps you understand your own views even more.
So next time you are about to use the word tolerance, try to regard it almost as if it is a bad habit. Choose the word respect and strive to give others true dignity instead of just “tolerating” them.
This is something that we should all work on so we can not only understand each other, but truly accept and welcome others.
In an age of multiculturalization, this is not an option. It is something we must all work on.
Be wary of “tolerance.” Love and respect is much more important to living a fulfilling life and being kind to one another.