Tolerance is the ability to accept and live with others for who they are. There are many things in life where people vary, and our acceptance of this diversity in life is vital to living together on a globalized planet.
For example, understanding and accepting the varying opinions in society about religion or politics (even when you disagree) is tolerance.
Increasingly, the idea of tolerance is seen as not enough: to tolerate means to grin and bear it, even if you don’t like it. Instead, we’re moving toward acceptance, a term that has less negative connotations.
Below are some examples of tolerance that you can apply in your life beginning today!
1. Accepting People’s Traditions and Religions
People come from different religions, and they worship their god in their own way. These belief systems and traditions may seem strange or even outright wrong to you, but then you must understand that as long as the people are not harming others, they have a right to exercise their religion.
An example of intolerance in this case is a person confronting somebody who wears a hijab. The intolerant person being intolerant the Muslim because he or she feels affronted by a religion they don’t understand.
A tolerant person, on the other hand, would know that a person’s value and humanity goes beyond their religion. They come from a different perspective, and their choice to wear a certain religious outfit is their choice to make, not yours.
2. Accepting LGBTQI+ People
People are attracted to different types of people, and there is a wide spectrum of gender. Some people may look strange to you, but as a tolerant person, you would say that it’s okay for people to be different to you.
People who do not identify in the same way as their assigned gender at birth exist in this world and have just as much a right to be a part of our society anyone else. As we live in a diverse society, tolerance is required. This simply means treating them with equality and dignity even if you are not a part of their community.
3. Accepting People’s Political Stances
Politics today is divisive, especially in countries where there is democracy. Voters from different political camps seem to look at one another with disdain.
A tolerant and mature person may come to respect that intelligent people come to different conclusions about politics. (And, even if someone’s position seems unintelligent to you, it’s their right to hold that view!).
It is sad that some friendships and family relationships had to end because of political disagreements, but it’s a reflection of the division that has entered our civil society in recent decades.
Yimby means “Yes in my back yard”. It’s the response to nimbyism (not in my backyard).
A nimby is a upper middle-class person who opposes affordable housing or racial diversity in their neighborhood. They’re often progressives who claim to be tolerant, but don’t want to actually share a community with people who aren’t wealthy like them.
Yimbyism is the response. It’s people who say they want a more diverse neighborhood (in terms of both class and race). They support affordable housing initiatives in their neighborhoods.
5. Inclusion of sub-cultural groups
Historically, moral panics have occurred when sub-cultural groups have become distrusted for the way they look or behave.
For example, in the UK in the 1970s, there was widespread moral panic about rock and punk music. Many parents worried that it would ‘corrupt’ the youth.
Today, the idea that The Ramones or The Who are the cause of any social problems seems laughable. But when new subcultures come on the scene, they’re often met with distrust and disdain by the establishment. This, of course, happened previously with Elvis and 1950s rock as well.
6. Tolerating dress codes
Earlier, I gave the example of tolerance of hijabs in the West as a sign of a tolerant society.
Some nations like France and provinces like Quebec have made moves to outlaw them. It’s arguable that this reveals a lack of tolerance. Quebec, in particular, has used the argument that the hijab is against liberal values, meaning that this topic is contestable and can be seen from multiple perspectives.
But there’s also the matter of more conservative societies accepting women in bikinis. If you walk around Aech in Indonesia, for example, women will be expected to cover up. Liberal women may find this offensive, too, so there are two sides of this same coin of tolerating others!
7. Integrated schools
In the United States, many schools remained separated by race right up into the 1950s and 60s. The integration of schools was a sign of increasing tolerance in American society.
Like many civil right, this did not come without a fight. Many people – black and white – protested and advocated hard for integration of schools, arguing that if children grew up together, then there would be greater trust, respect, and tolerance between the different ethnic and racial groups in society.
8. Accepting people you don’t get along with in the workplace
One of the most common times when we have to exercise tolerance is when we have to put up with a disagreeable colleague at work.
Tolerance may mean you need to accept when your colleague goes on a long diatribe in a meeting on a topic you don’t find relevant or useful. It may also mean in a university project that you need to find a way to include the perspectives of group members who you disagree with.
9. Free Speech
Free speech is a fundamental linchpin of a tolerant society. If we look to dictatorships around the world, one of the first things those societies lose is their freedom to speak out against the establishment.
Free speech means tolerating other people’s rights to say what they want, even if you don’t like it. It means allowing people to share tweets that you think are uncomfortable, letting people wear offensive clothing, and make jokes that might offend.
Today, there is a lot of debate about where to draw the line for free speech. Speech can offend and even cause people a lot of anguish. But lack of free speech also leads to the downfall of democracy.
10. Accepting the Right to Live the Way you Want
People have rights. For example, people have a right to food, privacy, security, shelter, etc. They have a right to be happy and live their lives decently.
Some intolerant people do not seem to understand the basic tenets of human rights. For example, an intolerant individual may deny someone the right to express his culture. The right thing to do is to respect an individual’s right to choose and right to live, provided that this exercise of rights does not violate the law.
11. Accepting People’s Ethnicity
Many countries today have matured in terms of respecting ethnic diversity. Societies are increasingly multicultural and as a result tolerance is increasingly required.
Tolerance of ethnicity means that you are not prejudicial about somebody simply because of the color of their skin or their family background. The same thing goes with stereotyping—one should not assume that just because someone comes from a certain ethnicity that they will hold certain beliefs or be a threat to anyone.
12. Accepting People’s Behaviors
This type of tolerance refers to exercising patience when people do something that bothers you. For example, a neighbor who has a temple in their backyard.
Tolerance in this situation means accepting that they can do what they want in their backyard so long as it isn’t rude or tangibly disruptive.
Of course, if people are partying almost every day, you also have the right to complain. In another case, some families may have children, and the children can make noise as they play. Yelling at these kids may be interpreted as intolerant.
13. Accepting the Poor and Downtrodden
Some people are poor and there is even sadly an underclass of people who are homeless, dirty, or smelly. We may cross paths with these people in public.
Intolerance of this situation means you dislike themand you do not want to see them around. You want them gone from your community as soon as possible!
On some occasions, you are within your rights to complain, especially if they are sleeping in front of your restaurant. However, getting disgusted and offended at the mere sight of someone who belongs to a different social class or because they are homeless and downtrodden is intolerant.
14. Accommodating for the Disabled
While in the past, society was generally ignorant of the disabled, today, society attempts to make reasonable accommodations for them. This is a reflection of increasing acceptance of difference.
For example, it can take a person with a disability sometime to walk up the stairs. In this case, you must be tolerant, which means you must exercise patience and wait behind that person.
The same thing goes with people who are seemingly slow mentally—you need to practice tolerance if they are taking a while to order or complete a transaction.
15. Accepting the Preferences of Others
Not all people like the same thing that you do. They may like rap music you, and you like rock. They may like fantasy novels, but you like dark humor.
An intolerant person may point out that the choice of the other person is cheap or unintelligent. This, of course, causes hurt to the others who hear it. In reality, nobody is correct as far as artistic preferences are concerned. The same thing goes for fashion choices.
16. Accepting Personality Differences
People have different personalities. People have different quirks, choices, humor, and ideals in life.
Tolerance of someone’s personality means not pushing or rubbing off somebody just because they are different from you. People must learn to accept their uniqueness, like the way he laughs, talks, smiles, etc. Without this level of tolerance, you will only cause unnecessary agitation among your group.
Tolerance is what makes a society peaceful. Without it, a given society that has a mixture of different people will be in a never-ending conflict.
Tolerance is something that schools, churches, and parents must teach their children. Intolerance must be nipped in the bud as soon as possible. Otherwise, children will grow up unreasonably hostile to others.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.