The definition or meaning of Tolerance

Welcome to BeTolerant. This is my dedication to strive for a better, peaceful world where people treat each other with respect.

Some definitions of Tolerance according to my friend The Internet:statue

  • “The ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behavior that one dislikes or disagrees with.”
  • “The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.”
  • “A fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.”
  • “Interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.”

I think it is important to point out that tolerance is not a belief system, not does the word contain truth. The word itself is just a word. Nothing more, nothing less. It is up to us to figure out what we mean by tolerance, define its boundaries and create a shared understanding of its meaning. The meaning may vary between cultures and religions, and even neighbors might have a different perspective on what includes tolerance and what “proper tolerant behavior is”.

I am not a prophet. I do not speak unquestionable truth. I am not a religious man, but I can understand the reasons to believe. I will not deny your prophet and say you are wrong, nor will I accept your prophet and promote your belief as the only truth. Not even science can claim absolute truth until we know all there is to know. And every answer science uncovers leaves us with more questions, so I do not think that time will come soon. Every human needs to believe. Whether it is in Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Tom Cruise, or Science, we all seek truth. And once we think we have found it, it is our purpose to convince other people of this truth. This cycle has been going on for ages with many ups and down along the way. Torture and murder, enlightenment and purpose, has been done in the name of truth. I do not say believing is wrong, I think believing is not even a choice. We all believe, we just differ in our belief system.

I believe that every human has value, every human deserves rights. Whether you are Muslim or Christian, black or white, German or Pakistani, I believe that does not matter. What does matter to me is how you treat your fellow man or woman. I believe in simple common sense. You do not steal, murder or rape. You do not beat up your wife. You do not force your truth upon others. You stand up for yourself and your family when threatened, but do not provoke and threaten other people.

I was asked what I thought about the statement: “tolerance ends where intolerance begins”. It is an interesting quote for sure. It tries to establish boundaries on the word tolerance in order to make clear to everyone what “the right way of tolerance” is. Tolerance is context depended. Tolerance is culturally different. Tolerance is individually different. So I cannot make these boundaries for you. The only universal aspect I would like to give to the word tolerance is respect for your fellow man and woman. Where you put your boundaries is up to you. Live as a good person, protect the people that require protection, support the people that require support. Do not assume to hold absolute truth but be open to other beliefs. Discuss. Argue. Get involved. Get angry! But be civilized. Be tolerant.

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2 Comments

Filed under Foreigner

2 responses to “The definition or meaning of Tolerance

  1. Good thoughts here Tim. I struggle with the statement “tolerance ends where intolerance begins” because it holds the hidden meaning that I only have to be tolerant when it is easy. As soon as I don’t want to be tolerant I identify someone as a hater and I have an excuse for hating back.

    I think it might be cleaner to say that “tolerance ends where respect ends” or perhaps better said, Tolerance and respect are two sides of the same coin.

    • Thanks for the feedback Curtis.
      Tolerance can only occur when someone has a different opinion. If that other person does not tolerate your values is no excuse to be intolerant.
      In that way we never get ahead and we will be stuck in the same violent circel

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