In this day and age, I hear a lot of people and sources say that we need more tolerance. Mostly, of-course, in relation to other races, cultures and/or creeds. I hear talk of racism, holy wars, terrorism. I read news articles about murder, rape, traffic aggression, vandalism… And all this, some say, would be solved by more tolerance. We should tolerate other people’s race, culture and or creed. We should tolerate their opinions, their sexual orientation, their differences.

Now this just does not seem right to me, and I will tell you why… defines tolerance as:

Tolerance \Tol”er*ance\, n. [L. tolerantia: cf. F. tol[‘e]rance.]

  1. The power or capacity of enduring; the act of enduring; endurance.

To me this implies that there is something negative that we must undergo. Something undesirable that we must endure. So is there something negative about a different race? Is cultural diversity undesirable? Is someone who by choice, by education, or for whatever reason is different from oneself something one should endure? Something one should put up with?

This is not a matter of tolerance, but a matter of respect. Those are things we should not endure, but try and understand. After all, the way we ourselves are is just as “random” as the other person’s. But if we have to “tolerate” all this, what an unpleasant world this is to become. Why are all those things something we experience as negative? Keeping them as such isn’t something I look forward to.

So instead of tolerating, why do we not 1) respect other people’s right to be who they are, and 2) try to understand them better. Learn something about their culture. Talk to them about their creed. Try and find the things about their race you like. I do not want to spend the rest of my life tolerating other people. This would make me very unhappy. I much rather try and understand them. And by doing so, there is a good chance I end up liking them.

By doing this, I end the problem. There isn’t much left I need to tolerate. Because lets face it, tolerating things takes up a lot of energy. Energy you not only spend once, but every time again! You can’t stop tolerating, or things go bad. Unless you just respect them for who they are, and try to understand them. It takes a lot less energy, and once you have a better understanding of someone, less and less energy is required in the long run.

Of-course there will still be people we just do not get along with. And in such case we need some tolerance. But those instances become rather scarce, because we no longer need to tolerate groups, just the odd individual we just can not get along with.

Educate yourselves people, try and understand your fellow man (or woman). Learn something about them, and you will probably find they aren’t that bad. But don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself! You just might be surprised how human those people not like you really are. You might find out that those people not like you, are very much like you after all… In the end, tolerance is just a very poor substitute for understanding.