Tolerance is simply the willingness to "put up" with something. In particular the existence of opinions or behaviors that are not necessarily ones that you agree with. This is an allowable amount of variation of a specific quantity. Now that I have given you the direct definition of what tolerance is ... I want to bring up what it means in society per my personal experience.
Tolerance in some societal regions (most actually) means "Do what I want you to do, Think how I want you to think, Be how I want you to be, Live how I want you to live, Act how I think you should act, Listen how I want you to listen and PLACE your true colors on the back of the proverbial rainbow burner."
Does this sound like tolerance? Nah ... because it is NOT.
Tolerance SHOULD be the appreciation and respect you have for others and them for you in return. This does not mean that you have to agree. It in no way means that you have to live your life and make your choices in reflection of them. It just means that mutual respect and support is present between you.
Tolerance is found in raising children, work ethics, choices of residence, choices of schools attended, the choice in a romantic relationship, the choice in who you are friends with and how you spend time with your friends, in how money is spent and saved, how clothing is folded and the choice to adhere to specific diets and eating or exercise habits. Does your friend spank their child when you would simply discuss the issue with your child and give them time out? Does a coworker complete the same job duty in a different manner than you but still complete it properly? Does your friend or family member choose to move to a city instead of a small town? Does your friends child choose a junior college when your child chooses a major university or overseas studies? How about does someone you care about spend all of their income tax return on vacation instead of saving or investing it? Do they go on a shopping spree? Do they live check to check and spend all that is left over? How about clothing? Is it folded or hung perfectly or left in a basket and fluffed in a dryer before it is worn clean? Do they eat healthy all of the time and exercise regularly or do they enjoy cake and Dr Pepper and only work out occasionally? Does your friend drink a glass of wine socially when you choose to not drink at all? What about racial issues? What about religious issues? What about musical issues? Yes musical ... do you only listen to Christian music while the other party enjoys hip-hop or alternative or even heavy metal?
These are only a few topics that tolerance comes into play with. Tolerance is found everywhere in every situation in every thing chosen or discussed. Tolerance is a part of our decisions and consequences as individuals (not just adults but children as well). When tolerance is not present it leaves so much room for negativity. When peace and respect and appreciation are not present the window is wide open for irritability, judgement, hate, arguments and broken ties with people we care about. Some things can be repaired and others ... well there is no coming back from them.
"Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others." - John F. Kennedy
"Love is not just tolerance. It is not just distant appreciation. It is a warm sense of, 'I am enjoying the fact that you are you.'" - N. T. Wright
There are, I am sure, many areas of my life that tolerance has been required from those that love me, but I assure that it has been mutual at some point in time. I do not sugar-coat realities to my children. I speak the truth and am always real with them, age appropriately of course. I do being true to myself well. I am not abrasive or hateful but I am "black or white" with no grey. I love big or I do not love at all. I am your friend 110% or we are acquaintances. I mind my own business and only give advice when it is asked for or detrimental to the safety of another person. I have dated or been married to a variety of personalities. Why? Because I get to know the person without regard to appearance, employment, athletic ability, musical choices, movie preferences or even favorite foods or social activities preferred. I am a small town girl with a city heart. I see and love the benefits and joys of each. I do not judge people who choose jobs that I would never want to work, I do not judge people for dressing in a way that I would never have the courage to dress, I do not judge people for choosing relationships after one has ended or in the most unexpected places, finding love.
Some people say that I have a large tolerance for others and at time too large of a tolerance. How can our tolerance be too large? I find myself being judged by individuals ... as I am sure we all do. I wonder if those who judge truly remember what it is liked and how it feels for people to ASSUME they know about their lives? Because we all make choices for ourselves based on our own life experiences. Our choices have reasons and most people, in fact the majority of people, have NO clue what those reasons are. I have been told numerous times lately that if a person does not pay your bills, does not invite you to their home regularly for meals or prayer or friendship, does not come to you when they know you are in pain or hurting, does not reach out to you often as a friend will and should, then that person and their intolerance does not matter in retrospect of my life.
"Intolerance is the most socially acceptable form of egotism, for it permits us to assume superiority without personal boasting." - Sydney J. Harris
This is one of my favorite quotes. People as a whole (and I am guilty of it as well because we are all human and it happens) boast of themselves silently when they are intolerant. It nonverbally puts it out there that you are better than the other person and that your ways are a better option or choice to make. I believe choices are individualized. I believe we are in the year 2015. I believe our parents raise us to be better versions of themselves and then trust us to make our own choices. I believe that we all have our own best interests at heart. I believe that we love and be loved and that if we have tolerance it DOES NOT mean we allow others to walk all over us or judge us or discriminate against us. I believe it simply means we take the high road of choosing to be happy. Choosing to better ourselves. Choosing peace and equality and to be treated like-mindedly and that in the end when tolerance is present people open themselves up to a version of life, a beautifully colorful version of life that wasn't possible before. So much more love and laughter are present when tolerance exists. Possibilities are present where they weren't before.
So ... my challenge to you is to begin developing a larger tolerance within yourselves towards others. To create that boundary that shows others that if they implement intolerance towards you that it does not penetrate your happiness, your well-being, your way of life any differently.
Tolerance is love. Tolerance is peace. Tolerance is happiness. I choose those three elements in my life. Do you?