Friday, February 18, 2011

Intolerance vs Tolerance

in·tol·er·ance [in-tol-er-uhns] –noun
1. lack of toleration; unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs, persons of different races or backgrounds, etc.
2. incapacity or indisposition to bear or endure: intolerance to heat.
3. abnormal sensitivity or allergy to a food, drug, etc.
4. an intolerant act. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010. 

What is so bad about intolerance and what is so great about tolerating everything? Besides, is there anyone in their right mind who would claim that anyone has ever existed who was intolerant about everything or who tolerated everything? To assert such a thing could only be done with eyes, mind, and memory permanently closed or totally missing.

By the way, the same dictionary used above gives the following definition for "tolerance":
tol·er·ance [tol-er-uhns] –noun
1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.
2. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.
3. interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.
4. the act or capacity of enduring; endurance: My tolerance of noise is limited.

It seems, however, that the current use in our society could be simply defined as follows.

Tolerance: Allowing as valid and acceptable for everyone.
Intolerance: Not allowing as valid and acceptable for everyone.

Question: Does the person who extols tolerance extend that philosophy to the philosophy of the person who does not?
See? There can not be absolute tolerance without also embracing intolerance which, in turns, invalidates tolerance.

Bottom Line: Society and its individual members use terms like "tolerance" and "intolerance" to promote their own agenda and stifle the agenda of those who disagree.

That is pure intolerance!

But I can tolerate it.