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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Hauber

Different Yet Unified?

Updated: Nov 5, 2023

Tolerance Loading
Tolerance Loading

Tolerance is a virtue that is often associated with respect and acceptance of differences, whether it be in religion, culture, lifestyle, or point of view. Although I have always been very tolerant with respect to the first three in this list, I will admit that I can struggle with tolerance of different viewpoints. I never realized just how intolerant I could be until COVID hit us. I wrestled with understanding different viewpoints on how it should be handled. I couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t share my opinion. I found myself even getting resentful at those who had different beliefs. Then I had to ask myself WHY.

Intolerance is often a result of fear, ignorance, prejudice, and distrust. After some introspection, I realized FEAR is the main reason for my own intolerance. I can be fearful of an outcome that scares me. I can be afraid of expressing my own opinion for fear of discrimination. I can also be fearful that...just maybe...I am wrong. There I said it! There are so many contributing factors that can fuel intolerance. Social media and various cable news programs have also helped to shape our perspective. Today we can choose to watch a news channel or program that reinforces those strongly held beliefs without ever hearing another way to look at an issue. Intolerance can range from a roll of the eyes to outright vile rhetoric.

Tolerance does not mean that you cannot disagree, or dislike ideas of someone else. It does not mean that you cannot be passionate about your own beliefs. I wouldn’t want to live in a world like that. Nothing would ever be accomplished. Tolerance is all about cultivating an open mind and listening to others’ perspectives in order to understand their beliefs and values. It is about treating others with kindness and respect even with we disagree.

I am not claiming that tolerance is an easy feat or should be used to 100% of the time. For example, should abolitionists been tolerant of those who fought to keep slavery? Should we have been tolerant of Hitler’s crusade to conquer territory and exterminate Jews? However, I am suggesting that in many cases, tolerance can be very beneficial. It can foster empathy and compassion. It can build stronger relationships with others and promote a sense of community. It creates an environment where we can focus on our shared values. Lastly, it creates an inclusive society where individuals who have different backgrounds and/or perspectives can coexist and thrive.

“"T"Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”

― John F. Kennedy

Although I have become a lot more tolerant as I’ve matured, I can still fall short in this area. I can most definitely feel anger rise up when someone cuts in front of me. Trust me, I have a hard time thinking about THEIR perspective at that moment! I am human after all. It is just my humble opinion, that if we first seek to understand before trying to be understood, we can accomplish more than we ever thought possible. With that being said, I will try to be more tolerant of those of you who don’t agree.


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