What is the true meaning of tolerance?

whatisthetruemeaningoftoleranceThere have been many things in this world that have frustrated me lately. What with the politics, the government, the culture, etc. Sometimes, it seems to all be going downhill. Sometimes, it really scares me. Sometimes, I think, What is this world coming to?” 

This is a messed up world that we live in. A really, really messed up. It’s a broken world. One that is falling apart piece by piece. It is not sinless, but instead full of sin. It is not perfect, but so imperfect.

And in this crazy time that we live in, a lot of things are misconstrued. So many things have become distorted, their meanings changed. The truth is so hard to see. We have to dig, to really search if we want to know the truth.

So, today I want to talk about one of the most misinterpreted things of this age. I have been consistently frustrated with how the meaning of this word (Yes, it is just a word, but words are powerful things.) has been used.

Over and over is it used to make points, statements, etc. But it is used in a way that does not remotely mean what it should (and does) mean.

This is the word tolerance.

In this age we get so sensitive to offense when this word comes up. There is so much attached to the word tolerance.

In our time, people believe that tolerance means accepting other people’s opinions, beliefs, practices, etc. and taking them as your own. That’s what most people believe.

Because if you don’t accept a person’s opinions, beliefs, practices, etc. and believe it, then you’re considered intolerant and/or some other such term.

This is not right. Not right at all. It’s really sad that this is what most people think tolerance is.

It is also just absolutely impossible to live out this view of tolerance. Because who can accept and believe what everyone believes? So many contradictions would pop up. And in trying to make everyone happy by believing in what they believed, you’d make no one happy. It’s literally just plain impossible.

Besides, who truly wants to believe and accept what someone else believes and accepts all just to be considered “tolerant”? No, the only reason it happens is because of pressure and coercion. Because there is no one who wants to believe and accept something that they don’t believe and accept.

The true meaning of tolerance is much easier to live out.

According to a dictionary, tolerance means “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.”

It is clear that tolerance does not mean accepting and believing another’s ways. No. It means having a “fair, objective, and permission attitude” towards another’s ways.

It means being kind and respectful about what another person believes, without having to actually believe it.

So I don’t have to agree with what you believe, but I can respect the fact that you have your own beliefs, though they may be different from mine.

And that, is true tolerance.

If we began to actually tolerate the people around us in the way that tolerance was meant, there would be a whole lot less hate going around in this world.

-G. Paige




6 thoughts on “What is the true meaning of tolerance?

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject, too. Something from the past of an old acquaintance was brought to mind recently. They belonged to a non-Judeo/Christian religion, and weren’t hurting anyone by doing so, but people in a local denomination tried to literally, physically hurt their family. They had to move out of state to feel safe again. Their new neighbors turned out to be members of the LDS Church, which is considered a controversial religion itself by some, and these neighbors were beyond loving and accepting to this family that had suffered so much. Religion was never a topic that these folks let divide them. To me, that is the true meaning of tolerance.

    Great post! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!


  2. This is so true! If one is not *for* something, they’re intolerant of others, and therefore “bad”. IT DOESNT WORK THAT WAY!!


  3. So true.
    The funny thing is that most of the people pushing tolerance don’t practice it. They are intolerant of being offended. If you even suggest that you believe in a God of absolute truth, they go ballistic.
    They’re only tolerant of those who have no convictions.

    Liked by 2 people

Comments are closed.