“Tolerance”: A Word I Don’t Tolerate

It never fails. Every time I converse with someone about inequality in the world, they always use the word “tolerance” to express how we should go about relating to one another.

Now, I don’t disagree that we must learn about each other and learn to live amongst each other in peace and harmony; this is not what I’m saying. I take issue with the word itself.

Who ever wants to be “tolerated“?

The use of this word supposes that a bigger, more powerful, dominant group, makes an effort to tolerate a minority group or someone of “lesser” value, so to speak. The word itself, to me, embodies the very definition of inequality. When I hear the word “tolerance”, I hear: “Oh, look at us! How good we are to put up with you when we really don’t have to. We’re doing you a favour by making a conscious choice not to run you to the ground. You’re so lucky to have us “tolerate” you.”

O.K., I might push the envelope a little, but I think you get the point.

Sure! Some might argue that this is a question of semantics, and that it really is not a big deal, but it makes me cringe.

I tolerate you.” Can you hear the condescension in that?

Let’s not teach “tolerance”. Let’s teach acceptance.

There is a BIG difference between the two.

“I accept you.” – Now THAT is nice, isn’t it?

🙂

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shawn
    Oct 21, 2010 @ 10:38:19

    I actually completely agree with you. To me, tolerance towards something seems very negative, as though it would be better were it not there, but as you said, you can “put up with it.”

    Acceptance is a much better term, akin to respecting others. I definitely appreciate this post, even if it might just be semantics, it still can make a very big difference.

    Reply

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