The definition of tolerance is non-judgmental and open to difference; tendency to be generally free of prejudice. International day of tolerance is on November 16th, and I was just thinking about my own. What does that really mean? To me, to others? I have always thought of myself as someone who looks at all sides. No judging others, you do you! Lately, I’ve noticed that people, in general, have become a little less tolerant of each other and our daily habits and beliefs.
It feels like a slow build-up of irritation with our fellow citizens. When you’re driving and someone honks or cuts you off. Or, the slow walker in the grocery store you get stuck behind. Ugh, am I right? Especially watching the news and hearing something about “the other side” that just gets you going? I can feel my tolerance slipping. I have no time for these life irritants. Why don’t people just do what I want and think like I think?
If I look at the definition, am I really free of prejudice? I’m not judgmental, but we all have prejudices. I guess I might not be as tolerant as I thought. I may have black friends, gay friends, Hispanic friends, old friends, friends from other political parties, but does that make me tolerant? As I get older, I’m learning it may not.
Tolerance takes listening to others’ views. It takes hearing hard ideas you would rather not hear. I have my opinions and when it comes to something that contradicts those ideas, I know, I would rather nod my head and move the conversation along. It’s not only about being open to differences, in race or ideologies but being able to understand where the other person is coming from.
I don’t know…something like empathy.
Why we need tolerance!
Tolerance does not imply compromising our own values, beliefs or way of life, but rather allowing others to live life as they wish, because our reasons to endure those differences out weight our reasons to object.Kumar Yogeeswaren
Why would we need to be tolerant? Oh boy isn’t that a loaded question? Not to sound too fatalistic, but social organization depends upon it.
Aside from being a virtue, it allowed ancient people to co-exist and build great civilizations. If these people were less tolerant they would have killed each other off and society would be stuck in the middle ages. Not to say that history is always peaceful, but within a society it allows us to live peaceably.
It allows us to think broader than ourselves. When we listen to the ideas of others, we avoid the echo chamber of like minds. If we look beyond our favorite news shows or talk radio. If we get off the Facebook and the Twitter.
Tolerance functions as a barrier to discrimination. It requires us to live and let live. When you have a bit of tolerance it makes it easier to look at the person, not the belief. There are so many good people in this world. We may not take a second look at the goodness in their hearts if we only see their political party, religious beliefs of cultural ideologies. It takes all kinds to make this world go round.
Take a brief look at what has been happening to our country. We have forgotten how to listen, how to tolerate things that offend us. When we reach across the aisle and try to hear an opposing thought it causes us to pause and reflect.
Tolerance can be difficult because it requires us to hold two seemingly contrary opinions. This does not imply neutrality or indifference, it simply asks you to take a look beyond your own ideas.
3 Different Kinds of Not So Tolerant
So, how do you identify what kind of intolerance you may have? Not saying that you do but, you know just in case.
According to Psychologists, there are three major kinds.
- Prejudicial: rigidity , closemindedness, antipathy towards a group of people. This is linked to rigid forms of thinking due to lack experience or fear of uncertainty.
- Intuitive: disapproval of out-group beliefs or practices. This involve restraint from obstructing beliefs that you disapprove of even though you may have the ability to do so. This becomes intolerant when you don’t recognize the rights of others to disagree with your opinions.
- Deliberative: interfering with specific beliefs that appear to to violate moral principles or values. Like drinking and driving, or out of wedlock sex
As a result, these three understandings have different implications on how we respond to tolerating others. Depending on the type of intolerance you’re dealing with it can impact your attitudinal and behavioral response to the “action”.
Everything that can be perceived as a slight or considered offensive, shouldn’t necessarily be restricted. You could argue that not all criticisms, objections, and disagreements that cause discomfort are intolerable. These discomforts and differing viewpoints can hurt your feelings, but this is a vital part of intellectual exchange and civil discourse. How can we have a debate about ideas if we don’t want to listen to anyone else’s ideas? This is what a free society needs in order to keep on truckin’! This is how we live in intolerance.
We need to hear the hard things to be able to live with each other!
What can you do for each other? 5 Little Things
- Take ownership of your feelings. People can’t make you feel a certain way. You are in control of you! If you slapped someone across the face would it be your fault or theirs? They didn’t make you load up and swing. You have control. Take a step back and try to realize how they feel or what they say has nothing to do with you.
- Develop curiosity. Try to understand or if you can’t understand it at least try to explore the things you lack tolerance in. If you know old people drive you nuts, maybe you should take a look at that.
- Change your perspective. Try to shift your point of view to see it where the other person is coming from. You may not like it, it may not feel great, but it will get you to see how the other person is coming at the topic or event. If you can see where they are you might be able to tap that little tiny bit of empathy you may have for them as a person.
- Practice respect / value differences. Even if you can’t meet them where they are, do they not have value as another human? Even at the most basic level. Values differ, but being human is what we all are.
- Check your ego. Listen, we all have an ego, it’s even important for your self esteem. Tolerance depends on us tucking it away. If you can’t see your own fault in a situation, then you might be well into your ego. If you feel like retaliating for an action or a word that disrupts your norms, your ego is egging you on. Shut it down and try to get quiet. Listen to your thoughts, find empathy.
So what now?
As we become more technologically advanced, we have to rely on each other less and less. We no longer need to overlook the annoying neighbor because he might be able to help us bring in our harvest when one of our horses goes lame. Our society is becoming less and less connected the more we are connected.
Tolerance is just one small part of the human experience. It’s up to you to figure out how much you will be tolerant and how you can live with other people who don’t think or act as you do.
Can we save ourselves? Is it all up to all of us to make sure our society stays peaceful and civilized? YES! one hundred percent. We should all look at our own behavior and check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.
Just remember the next time your tolerance slips, try to remember we are all human and every human deserves a measure of respect.
There are so many great websites about this topic. Here are a few links to help you further your search for tolerance!
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of The We Spot, its employees, sponsors, or affiliates.