The only hope of preserving what are best lies in the practice of an immense charity, a wide tolerance, and a sincere respect for opinions that are not ours.-Philip Gilbert Hamerton
Although there are many negative ways of looking at tolerance (see the tolerance page for some examples), I think that tolerance of other people’s ideas and opinions is one of the most essential keys to building a better world and making our lives more positive. When we lack tolerance, we’re focused on wanting things to be our way–it’s a form of trying to control life, trying to have things our way, which is a sure strategy for frustration and anger and all those other nice feelings.
I think of things in specific ways, and my perspectives result from all I’ve learned my entire life. But someone else has had other parents, friends, teachers, and other life experiences–it would be rather silly of me to think that everyone else is going to agree with me about so many things about life. Politics, religion, sexuality, education, and work. There are so many things that we can disagree upon that I must allow other people to have their views and not judge them harshly and unfairly simply for disagreeing with me, for having different skin color, or for believing in different religious tenets than I. It doesn’t hurt me a bit for someone else to be different from I am, so there’s no need for me not to be tolerant of others.
My tolerance allows me to learn and grow a great deal, and it puts me in the position of being someone who appreciates and respects the best qualities of others–whether I “agree” with them or not. When we allow for differences, we learn to compromise and work with others rather than needing everything to be done our way, and when we do this, we contribute to a world that is much more diverse and in which more people feel loved and respected, which is always a good thing.
Questions to consider:
About which kinds of views and ideas are you the most intolerant? Why?
How can tolerance help us to be happier people?
Why might so many people be interested in teaching others to be intolerant?
For further thought:
The human family is very diverse, with many different beliefs, cultures, and ways of life. Many conflicts in our world are caused when people are intolerant of how others see the world. Learning tolerance is an essential cornerstone to creating a better world.-Robert Alan Silverstein