Is Tolerance Enough?


Tolerance For All

Tolerance For All

I read a story about a family reunion at a California campground being terrorized by a man threatening them with what appeared to be a shotgun and yelling racial slurs. The community there  established a GoFundMe page for the family and staged a protest to make sure that the world outside their community knew that this one jerk didn’t represent them. USAToday Article

One protester had a sign saying, “Tolerance For All” and said things like, “If you can’t tolerate people having a good time …  go home.”  The sentiment was pure, but being a wordsmith of a sort, I can’t help believing that we are using the wrong word, here.  “Word Choice” ( WC ) as my critique group would write on the page.

This is only one example of what is out there and I’ve seen it applied several times to people of other religions, race, or sexual orientation.  And it continues to bother me.

If I told a complete stranger that I tolerate them, do you think they would feel all warm and cozy with me in their presence?

If I told a Muslim friend that I tolerate his/her religion, would they be comfortable discussing their faith with me?

Declaring to a co-worker of a different race that I tolerate them, will that give them a sense of inclusion to my work family?

When someone comes out and reveals that they are gay, and I tell them that I tolerate that, will they trust me?

The answer is: no, No, NO and Hell No.  Tolerance is not enough and it is not the right word.  I believe it should be, Acceptance.

Acceptance for All

What’s wrong with saying that you accept someone’s faith, race, or orientation.  I am not saying that you claim to understand them.  I’m just saying that we accept, consider, and include their right to express their ideas and thoughts into our everyday lives.  Acceptance does not give anyone the right to infringe upon your right to pursue your own happiness.  It just means that if someone else is different from you and not hurting you, then accept them into your heart.

To tolerate someone I believe falls short of the mark. The world will be a better place if we accept more than we tolerate.