Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tolerance vs. Acceptance


I’m going to continue on my talk about language today. It is of the highest importance to me, because it is how I define myself and others. One thing I’m saddened of is how the connotations are being stripped from words and our language sanitized. Thus, nowadays it seems people don’t know how to express emotions as much as they are no longer inherent in our speech as they used to be. Maybe it’s just me. When I talk to my class most have never heard of a connotation and don’t know what a word means beyond the definition. One of the ‘tips and tricks’ for the GRE is that if you don’t know a word see how it sounds, how does it make you feel? Then you can usually eliminate a choice from there.

But many can’t say that a word makes them feel anything, except perhaps confused.

That is my lead in to two words that are thrown around all over the place: tolerance and acceptance. Let’s look at these words, shall we?

Tolerance: The act of enduring. “She is tolerant to loud music.” My favorite is this part on dictionary.com, “Tolerance, agree in allowing the right of something that one does not approve.”

I love that, the right of something that one does not approve. I often hear tolerance preached and think people have no idea what they are saying. They are saying, “even though I don’t approve of what you’re doing, I’ll allow it.” It’s just a nicer form of the missionary complex.

I mentioned before that I grew up in ‘the church’ and have many issues with them. They taught tolerance as well. It was the type of tolerance where they stressed that we, the God-fearing Christians were right and the others wrong but since their horrendous beliefs in something outside of our own only hurt themselves, we would tolerate them and in our tolerance they could see God.

Tolerance. I call bullshit on the whole idea. I tolerated a lot growing up; I endured so many layers of hell. But what saved me is that I recognized it as wrong. Yet, when people go around saying how great they are as a person for tolerating others or how great we are as a nation because we tolerate so many different cultural groups I do say bullshit, because to tolerate is to assume that you are right, and don’t approve of the others. In fact, it still creates that mindset of ‘the other’ which is the main way to rationalize someone as less than human and that makes killing easier to do.

Gotta love rationalization.

Now, on to acceptance, which per dictionary.com, is, ”the mental attitude that something is believable and should be accepted as true,” or simply, “favorable reception, approval.”

Isn’t that what we really want for each other? Not tolerance, but a ‘favorable reception’? Isn’t that what we need to offer those that differ from us, approval and a positive mental attitude?

I wonder if I’m the only one that sees such a difference between tolerance and approval and how this trains our thinking. I really think it does affect how we view the world. If we only tolerate things we are still setting a standard of right and wrong (with us in the right) that sets up that dangerous other. With acceptance we are acknowledging that, as the Muppets said, “Peoples is peoples.” We need to accept others, accept their customs and cultures (and language) and not merely ‘tolerate’ them because we have too.

Does that make sense, or am I talking in circles?

I tolerated the pain in my childhood. I tolerated my mother. I never accepted that what happened was meant too, I never approved of her actions. I think that distinction made all the difference.

picture from http://janachristy.com found via google images

3 comments:

Amel's Realm said...

Fascinating!!! It's true what you said, but I guess we're too used to the word "tolerate" rather than "accept".

Yes, truly we want to be accepted as who we are rather than just being "tolerated".

Keep the ideas coming, Vic! I LOVE your posts he he he...

Victorya said...

Ah, thanx amel! I'm glad you like my posts. I think a lot about language as well as, I guess, everything else :) It's nice to have an outlet.

I strive for acceptance of others, tolerance - I guess I don't have much tolerance anymore, lol, for good or bad I accept more than I used to, or I don't, but I don't want to merely tolerate or be tolerated.

heavenabove said...

This post makes PERFECT sense. I especially like the thought on how being "tolerant" one is assuming their way is "right".