Thursday, March 28, 2013


I have a question for everyone to discuss. What is tolerance? There are several groups that push their own variety of tolerance. Some push some form of religious tolerance, some push tolerance of some type of behaviour, some push tolerance of various ethnic groups, age bands or political movements. My question though does not look at any specific group but instead at the word itself, what is tolerance?

Does tolerance equate acceptance? If I tolerate a certain behaviour, do I have to accept and legitimize it? Do I have consider that behaviour that does not conform to the "norm" just as "ok" as the "norm"? Or, do I literally just have to put up with it and not persecute? I guess what I mean is, how do I demonstrate tolerance? Moreover, how do I demonstrate tolerance if that particular group's morals, norms, ideals, activities, whatever go directly against my personal set of beliefs? If that is the case, are my beliefs "wrong"? If your answer to that question is yes, are you being intolerant toward me?

Do your answers to those questions change if I talk about tolerating an ethnic group instead of a behaviour group? What if I ask those questions about a political movement? What if the questions are about a new religious movement or even an old religious movement that starts to take off in "your" country?

Again, I am not looking specifically at any current movement--I know the marriage rights camp is in full swing right now. That just has me thinking about the concept of tolerance. More, it has me thinking about human behaviour and our built in tendency to flock to similar people and shun "weird" people (based on our own personal definitions of weird).

For me personally, I tend to believe in the live and let live side of things. I think our government gets WAY too involved in WAY too many aspects of our lives and stirs the pot by sort of picking and choosing the winners in all sorts of arenas. I think our lives would be way simpler if the government got out of 60% of the things it sticks its nose into and just let us live our lives. I think people would naturally evolve into a tolerant culture if there were not divisions placed (socioeconomically, socially, etc.) by our benevolent, omnipotent government.

I am inviting you to share your opinions on this topic. I posed lots of questions. Feel free to pick one or two or reply to the whole thing. The only thing I ask is that you refrain from rudeness. Be respectful and share your thoughts. Others will do the same.


Rachel Odom said...

I think it comes down to is the choice of the person actively harming or being forced on someone else (to make them participate in the thought behavior lifestyle or action)? Also, how would you want to be treated by someone who believes/thinks/acts differently than you?

KW said...

I always thought of tolerance as a "bad thing" when I was younger. I didn't want to just tolerate people, I wanted to accept everyone and everything and spread love. Then, I grew up and don't feel the same anymore. I can tolerate people's behavior/political views/etc. without accepting it and saying everything everyone says is right, too. With that, I was saying everyone is right, because they think they are. Well, where was myself and what I stand for? I've enjoyed Jim Morgan's class on Wednesday nights. I agree with what he says about either we believe what we believe and are convicted in it or everything is just opinion. And, am I willing to just say everything in life is based on everyone's opinion.

Rachel Odom said...

Exactly. It isnt about agreeing. It is about treating people with kindness.

Daniel said...

The word "tolerance" has simply gained too much baggage. It means more than it did just 10 years ago. It invokes emotion on so many different levels for so many different people... in different ways. And yes, it seems to me that tolerance is used interchangeably with acceptance by many.

To me, tolerance means that I am willing to allow something that I find displeasing to continue without involving myself in the situation. It does not mean that I agree, support, or encourage the matter at hand. I simply choose not to engage in any action that might hinder the course of events around that which I find displeasing.

What I find most aggravating the whole tolerance issue in our culture today is the attitude of those people who preach tolerance. In most cases that I've seen/heard/experienced, these advocates of tolerance try to force others to "tolerate/accept" something particular ideals. In this process, these same people are being intolerant of those who have different ideals. This kind of hypocrisy drives me crazy.

I don't think that tolerance equates to acceptance, or at least it shouldn't. There are some things that I think society should not accept nor tolerate. Other things should be left up to individual decisions. How do we tell when to tolerate something or not? Well, that's a conversation that would probably be better held over a beer and cigar next to a warm fire.

Anonymous said...

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Mat 10:22

It is of no consequence to we that believe in Christ, for we are not of this world. Therefore, forgive them who persecute you and are intolerant of you because it's not because of you, but Christ. Worry not about the matters of this world nor how unrepented sinners behave, for we also being sinners are saved solely by the Grace of God in Christ Jesus. I seek not this worlds tolerance nor rewards, the damned shall receive their reward here on earth, but for the elect our reward is in heaven.

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. Mat 6:20

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