Myriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “tolerance” as follows:
tol·er·ance noun \ˈtä-lə-rən(t)s, ˈtäl-rən(t)s\
1: capacity to endure pain or hardship: endurance, fortitude, stamina
2a: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own. b: the act of allowing something: toleration
Notice there is nothing in the definition that says you must agree with the beliefs or practices that are different from yours? Some people just don’t understand that part.
There are certain groups of people in this country that scream and demand tolerance for anything and everything they want or believe, yet they cannot tolerate people who disagree with their beliefs. These people think anyone who disagrees with them should be chastised, vilified and ridiculed. It’s obvious people like that don’t understand the definition of their favorite word.
People who demand tolerance without demonstrating it usually have a second favorite word or expression they use against those who disagree with them. The root word is “hate.” Rather than practice tolerance themselves, these people accuse those who disagree of practicing hatred. Again – it comes from a lack of understanding of the word “tolerance”, whether it be deliberate or not.
The other word(s) commonly used by these people is “bigot” or “racist”. If someone disagrees with a particular practice – let’s say gay marriage since it’s in the news so much today – those demanding tolerance cry “hater” or “bigot” or “homophobe” – without once being “tolerant” of the beliefs of others and their right to disagree. They don’t care what the stated reasons are. They only care that someone dares to disagree with them and their vile intolerance begins to show. And the same words fly if someone voices their distrust of Muslims – even given the current situation in the world.
In like fashion it has become all too easy for them to cry “racist” if one disagrees with the President, again - regardless of the reasons stated for the disagreement. Somehow, some people believe that conservatives should all embrace the Obama Presidency and agree with everything he does. And if that doesn’t happen they label those who disagree with the “R” word. But how ridiculous is that? One must wonder if Herman Cain had somehow won the election and was running the country with a conservative administration, would those who opposed his policies consider themselves racist? I doubt it.
Let’s look at the definition of “tolerance” again: Sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own.
In other words – allowing or accepting beliefs or practices that differ from or conflict with one’s own. The examples I posted above aren’t going to go away soon. I foresee a future in the United States where gay marriage will be allowed nationwide in the name of civil rights. And those who oppose it, for whatever reason, will be forced to tolerate it because it will be the law of the land. For the most part they already do tolerate it. If not, the instances of hate crimes against homosexual people would be far higher than they are and would probably be on the rise given that some states have already legalized their marriage. So it seems that people are “tolerant” of it already. There is no clause of silence in the definition of tolerance. So there is no reason people should stop voicing their opinions, pro or con, of any practice or belief. And they should be able to do just that in a peaceful and respectful manner.
“Tolerance” has to apply to both sides. If one side is demanding tolerance for their beliefs and practices then the other side has the right to demand the same thing. Bottom line – if people cannot expect tolerance from you they’re less likely to afford it to you. Just sayin….