Tolerance is useless

We are often told to become more tolerant.

Tolerance is sometimes even looked upon as a virtue.

But the mere definition of tolerance points to the problem with tolerance.

Look at this definition found on google the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with.

Being tolerant means we will continue to dislike the other.

Of course we’ll put up with the other and we’ll try to live our lives without being too affected by the other.

But will we embrace the other and recognize their humanity?

Will we reach out?

Will we SEE the other?

No. We don’t need more tolerance.

We need more compassion and understanding and inclusion.

Our world is becoming more divided and extremist.

How does this happen?

By spending more and more time with like-minded people.

Think about this. The more time you spend with like-minded people, the more you believe that your way is the right way, the correct way, the only way. This  leads to closed-mindedness.

For people like me, a natural introvert, being with like-minded people is comfortable, and where I like to be.

But what I have realized is that the deeper conversations I have, with people  from other walks of life, grow my compassion, my understanding and my empathy.

  • Talk to a prisoner about their childhood.
  • Talk to a drug addict about their shame.
  • Talk to a student about the obstacles they have to overcome to get to their goals.
  • Talk to a cashier about the abuse customers give them.
  • Talk to a teenager about the difference they want to make in the world.
  • Talk to a security guard about the boredom they endure.
  • Talk to a CEO about the stress they endure.
  • Talk to a mother about her dreams for her children.
  • Talk to people that you tolerate.

Let’s stop being tolerant.

Lets start being compassionate.

Let’s start conversing with  unlike-minded people.

Lets embrace the humanity in all of us.

If you want others to be happy,
practice compassion.
If you want to be happy,
practice compassion.
Dalai Lama


About Kirsten Long

Coach. Toastmaster. Prison-worker. Wife. Mother. Friend.
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2 Responses to Tolerance is useless

  1. Olaf Eklund says:

    Tolerance can indeed be a heavy burden. In almost all of the “enlightened” Western world, one has to at least be SEEN to be tolerant, or else be labeled a bigot, racist, sexist, neo-nazi or any of dozens of other labels which are applied by the “Tolerant” and very noisy minority who are trying to bend the world to their will. Perhaps the only way to deal with this is to ignore those who cause the problems and maintain one’s own equilibrium. This may seem like being closed-minded, but it doesn’t necessarily mean ignoring the actual problems. We all have to live in the midst of this mixed-up society, and it is important to treat people individually and not generalise. One does not have to be persuaded to a radically different viewpoint in order to be seen to be tolerant, but trying to avoid strife and conflict is important.

    • Kirsten Long says:

      Hi Olaf,

      Thanks you for your valuable comment. You are so right – and I believe one can be compassionate about people who have radically different viewpoints – although I, personally, have to draw the line at violence, abuse and terrorism. I think conflict and strive can be avoided by employing that basic and most necessary value of respect for the other…. along with listening, understanding and compassion.sometimes I feel like the world has a long way to go, and yet, I meet the most amazing people who are doing such good work at making a difference in peoples lives – even tho they themselves have so little.

      We are all difference and we are all the same.

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