Tolerance is something that gets talked about a lot nowadays, but in all that discussion it can be difficult to understand what the word even means, and why it’s so important to practice.
It’s important to learn why tolerance is so important to society, why you should always be tolerant when dealing with others, as well as why others should always be tolerant when dealing with you.
What Is Tolerance?
In the literal sense, tolerance is defined as “The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.”
Essentially, this means understanding and accepting that people who are different or behave differently from you are still worth respect and kindness.
That might sound simple enough, but it’s often brought up because it’s hard to understand what exactly that looks like when we talk to people different than us.
When you’re talking to others, and you don’t understand their point of view, always try to see things from their perspective and think about why they might believe the things they do.
You don’t necessarily have to agree with them! Tolerance doesn’t mean you should let other people tell you what to do, who to be, or how to behave.
Those are all things you are in control of, and no one has the right to take that away from you.
Is Tolerance Religious?
Tolerance is not inherently religious, and you should practice tolerance towards those of other cultures, races, beliefs, and sexualities.
That said, tolerance is a primary tenant of many major religions, and the idea of it likely originated from religion.
Even though tolerance is intended to be a major part of most religions, it is not always practiced by its followers.
It is not uncommon for people throughout history, and even to this day, to preach or practice intolerance for the sake of personal power or wealth.
Intolerance is also seen outside of religion and affects many minorities and people different from what is considered ‘normal’ within their culture.
Intolerance often arises when people with opposing beliefs meet and don’t make an effort to understand or educate one another, and tolerance arises when we learn more about the people around us and build relationships with them.
Why Is Tolerance Important?
Being tolerant is an essential part of being human. We learn to respect others throughout our lives even when we disagree with them or they sometimes annoy us.
Tolerance is something we all practice every day, when talking to our parents, our friends, our siblings, and strangers on the street.
We treat them with respect and are kind and empathetic to them even when we think they’re wrong.
We do this because it makes our relationships with others more meaningful, lets us communicate without fear, and helps us understand each other better.
Tolerance is necessary for us to understand each other, whether that be one on one conversations at school or conversations at the highest echelons of society.
Being tolerant to others, and them being tolerant to you, allows opinions and beliefs to intermingle and be discussed in a healthy and productive way that promotes solving issues with kindness and respect rather than facing each other with hatred.
So Should I Be Tolerant Of Everyone?
Yes, no matter who it is or what you think of them, you should always try to understand someone’s point of view and respect them for it.
That said, you are owed as much respect as anyone else. If you aren’t being treated fairly or with respect by others, you have the right to stand up for yourself and be treated with basic decency.
If you are being harassed or bullied by someone for being who you are, then they are treating you with intolerance, and you should reach out for help from others to let them know.
You can also be tolerant of others while refuting their beliefs, and tolerance for others does not mean you have to compromise on your principles or that you should feel forced to accept the ideas of others, it just means that when dealing with people you don’t agree with, that you treat them with the fundamental right of respect owed to all humans.
How Can I Be More Tolerant Of Others?
If you’re asking yourself this question, then congratulations! You’re already expressing tolerance by considering the feelings of others.
Tolerance isn’t performative, so you don’t have to do anything special for anyone to show tolerance for them.
To be tolerant, it’s just important that you listen when others try to speak about what they think, even if your initial reaction to what they believe is anger or confusion.
Remember that everyone has the right to speak about what they believe as long as it doesn’t harm others.
Countering someone’s ideas when they express them is not intolerance, as long as you express your counterargument in a way that demonstrates respect and a genuine understanding and appreciation of the viewpoint of the person you are talking to.
It can be difficult to remember to be tolerant a lot of the time, especially when faced with new and challenging ideas that run contrary to your own moral beliefs.
We can sometimes find ourselves being intolerant of others without even meaning to, due to a lack of understanding or confusion on what someone believes or who they are.
Everyone can be forgiven for making mistakes, but you always have to try to make a conscious effort to not be unkind or deliberately disrespectful to others.
Someone being different from you is never an excuse for aggression or to deliberately belittle them, even if you think they might deserve it.
Always try to respect others, no matter what.
Not only is it a basic human right to be treated fairly no matter your beliefs, but it will also expose you to a world of new diverse cultures and beliefs that will ultimately brighten your life and lead to a more peaceful world.
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