I remember a colleague objecting to my suggesting we could be more tolerant of each other’s differences. He equated tolerance with tolerating, and since he felt tolerated way too often, it was a sensitive point for him.
After that, I became more sensitive to how I used that term. Even so, being tolerant towards difference meant, for me, an acceptance that I don’t know or understand another’s approach or culture, and that they may not understand mine.
Well, then I looked up the definition. According to Mirriam-Webster, ‘tolerance’ has a number of meanings:
– sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own
– the allowable deviation from a standard
– the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (such as a drug) or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure
– relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor
‘Indulgence’, ‘allowable deviation’, ‘capacity to endure’; all really more about ‘tolerating’ from a position of judging the other as less than, but being too polite to mention it directly. The final version even has some of that feel in it – to grow ‘in spite of’.
These days, there is a lot of tolerance… and of judging the other. I’m opting for a new view – making space — for difference.
What might you prefer?
Why you can’t teach tolerance
Quote of the Week
““The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it..”
– Albert Einstein
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