This day is also an opportunity taken by many human rights activists to speak out on human rights laws, and in some workplaces, special programs, talks, or messages from leaders about the importance of tolerance are presented. More information can be found at the United Nations web page.
In the past, the word “tolerance” has had a negative connotation to me. As illustrated in the definitions below, it seems to indicate more of an attitude of just “putting up” with something or someone, rather than “acceptance”.
1. to endure (or in my own terms: to put up with)
2. sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own
Accept (root of acceptance) -
1. to receive willingly
2. to give approval to
I have come to the conclusion, however, that tolerance is not a negative word, but rather the context in which we use it is either negative or positive. Tolerance is not the same as accepting all practices or views as equal. More accurately, it is developing a higher awareness of and respect for many different universal human rights and basic freedoms.
Tolerance is intended to show respect. Respect for people, not necessarily for their actions. I do not have to accept another person’s actions as right, but I do need to respect that person’s right to their viewpoint. I do not have the right to degrade or look down upon anyone because of their views. But that does not mean I have accepted those views.
Does that mean I am not going to stand up for what I believe in? That I am just going to roll over and play dead when someone does or says something that I believe is morally or ethically wrong? No, not at all. It means that I will respectfully, openly approach that person in an attitude of humility. I will make the environment such that they do not feel threatened. I will welcome rebuttal and feedback, and expect to receive the same – all in love and the need to understand. Ignorance is NOT bliss. Ignorance leads to prejudice and hate.
That’s not the kind of world I want to live in, nor to hand over to my children when the time comes.
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."