Being Tolerant Even If We Don’t Understand

July 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) offers the following definition of Tolerance:

“Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance is harmony in difference”

A well regarded site defines tolerance as follows:

“To tolerate means that you put up with something you don’t particularly like or that may even be most disgusting to you. Therefore, if I do not like a certain behavior or if I speak out against a certain lifestyle it is not accurate or fair to label me intolerant. In certain quarters today one is labeled quite intolerant if he speaks out against certain behaviors like homosexuality or abortion on demand or porn on the airwaves. But this is not intolerance because tolerance presupposes that one does not like that which he tolerates. Many people today in these various lifestyles are calling on us to embrace their sin in the name of tolerance. Tolerance does not require that we be neutral, accept, condone or embrace the evil around us.

These are just two definitions I picked out from the web.  Where they come from, is not the point.  What matters is that tolerance can’t be only applied when it is convenient.  We live in a world of many different cultures, beliefs and histories.  Being tolerant is perhaps not understanding or participating in an ideology, but accepting that others may choose to do so. It is when we can accept people that are different from us, as they are, as long as they are not hurting others or demanding we participate in their philosophy.

I’m not a religious person but accept that others are, and if others accept my Jewish spiritual atheism (I’ll discuss that at another blog) we have tolerance and harmony.

Tolerance is when we can accept all sexual orientations even if we don’t think they are a “correct lifestyle”.  Tolerance is when we can accept our spiritual differences without wanting to impose our ideas on others.  Finally, tolerance is allowing everyone to live their lives as they wish as long as no one is being victimized. I’m thinking about the Iranian woman who has just been condemned to be stoned to death by Islamic criminal law for adultery.

Tolerance is not an easy thing because it challenges our own belief system but if we truly have love in our hearts, how could we not accept and respect the differences that make us such a unique species?

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  • Winsor Pilates

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