Discussion Part III: Tolerance

Who decides what is tolerant? Does that person have a right to force others to agree?

It bothers me that “tolerant” people can be intolerant toward something else, and it bothers me that “tolerance” is so subjective in the first place. It also bothers me that “tolerant” people can (and will) impose their version of tolerance on me. Is this fair?

Because of my religious beliefs, I try very hard to adhere to a certain lifestyle and mindset. I understand that not every being shares these beliefs, and that I should not expect them to. However, is it fair to force me into the same tolerance that someone else believes? And, if it is fair, why does that person get to choose? Shouldn’t they tolerate my (albeit close-minded) beliefs? Surely I have a right to freedom of belief and freedom of expression just as much as they do…?

If we take tolerance and, as Lewis puts it, “set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs,” we turn it on its head. Why else would “tolerant” people be intolerant of others? In seeking to be tolerant in ALL areas, we must force others to adopt the same ideals, which–in effect–negates our entire argument.

What then? Should we cease being tolerant? Of course not.

But we should exercise restraint, which is not the same as being close-minded. The most tolerant people I know personally, are not those who profess to it, actually. These people are often on the sidelines, continuing their narrow journey while being forced to accommodate others who oppose and ridicule them.

It’s not that I want one group to be over the other, but if we are truly tolerant, we must learn to respect even the beliefs that are contrary to our own. Surely we can have discussions, like grown-ups? We can discuss why we think some things are more important than others. It’s possible…right?

Learn to be tolerant–truly tolerant. It means a change of attitude.

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2 thoughts on “Discussion Part III: Tolerance

  1. Dustin Schwartz says:

    Some good stuff here, Elise! I think the simplest, most pragmatic definition of tolerance is a sort of “live and let live” mentality. It seems to me that when a lot of left-wingers preach “tolerance,” it’s usually in defense of licentiousness, rather than as an actual philosophical tenet.

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