Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Is Tolerance Our Best?


Another guest post by Dana


Yesterday was National Coming Out Day - a day managed by the Human Rights Campaign to not only encourage the LGBT community to speak up (and out) for who they are, but to get ALL people to talk about their support for equality at home, at work and in their communities.

Throughout the news and the cyber world, I kept seeing and hearing reference to tolerance. We need to have tolerance for the LGBT community. We need to have tolerance for those who lead a different lifestyle than we do. We need to have tolerance, not hate.

I disagree.

Merriam-Webster defines tolerance as:
sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own.
Sympathy? Indulgence? Wow! Really?

As a society, we've kind of come to an acceptance of tolerance. We've set it as the goal we should all strive to meet. I think we can do better than tolerance.

I don't want to be tolerated in spite of my differences, I want to be celebrated for ALL that I bring to the table.

I don't want people to have sympathy for my sexual orientation, or to allow me to indulge in my sexual preferences. That reeks of needing their permission.

I don't want their permission - I don't want their tolerance - I want their acceptance.

At some point, society lost the true definition of acceptance and began defaulting to tolerance. There seems to be this underlying fear that if we accept people in spite of their sexual orientation (or race, or religion, or gender, or any other difference) that we somehow lessen the pride we have regarding of our own sexual orientation (or race, or religion, or gender, or any other difference).

It's crazy.

I suppose tolerance is a start, but I think we should set the bar higher - much higher.


A special thanks to Emmy at Right Turn Without Signaling for her Tolerance post yesterday that served as an inspiration for this post.



Karen said...


I like tolerance because it is attainable. I know many people who are never going to celebrate other's differences. We can expect other to be tolerant and accepting of differences. Those are passive activities. But asking to people to actively celebrate something that not their reality (or that might be conflicting to their morals) seems to be a stretch.

I think your post is awesome, but too idealistic for reality.

yogurt said...

"society lost the true definition of acceptance and began defaulting to tolerance"

I too want very much to see acceptance. I do believe, however, tolerance is correct for, say, those times I see a woman wearing a veil, in the mall, next to her husband who is wearing blue jeans, a t-shirt and bare headed. I don't accept the practice of women covering their hair but I am willing to be tolerant. So there is room for tolerance over acceptance.

Knight said...

I think this particular situation is one where the word tolerance shouldn't be involved. Only acceptance makes sense for the people that really struggle with understanding. Tolerance is something I have for people with crazy religious ideals and Republicans.

Doc said...

Some people will never be accepting so just showing some tolerance would be a start. It's literally going to take another generation to improve things along these lines... sad but true.

Dana said...

Karen, agreed, it *is* idealistic, but I don't think that means it is unrealistic. People usually meet the standard set for them - nothing more. If we set the standard at tolerance, that's likely all we'll ever get!

yogurt, you're right - tolerance *does* have it's place, just not when it comes to sexual orientation.

Dana said...

Knight, and if you didn't have tolerance for Republicans I would be in BIG trouble ; )~

Doc, I agree that tolerance is better than intolerance, but I also believe we need to strive toward acceptance!

crystal said...

Thank you for this post, I completely agree! Tolerance just feels like pity to me, why cant we all just be accepting of eachother?

Mike said...

Tolerance is for mullets.

Vinny "Bond" Marini said...

I accepted long ago...people who tolerate are not very open to society as a whole and the fact that we are all different...even us white, heterosexuals are different from each other...we don't tolerate each other do we? No we accept.

I accepted long ago.

Bina said...

Wow. Excellent post Dana. I don't know of anyone that could have said it better.

I have several gay friends and when people say, "hey, do you know that guy is GAY, and he has a husband?" They say it really snarky, and I say, "Really? That is so cool! I am so happy for them!" That shuts them right up.

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Mike Golch said...

Being tolerant is acceptable,but not the total answer.

Dana said...

crystal, better yet, what if we all worried less about what was happening in the bedroom and cared more about the people *in* the bedroom??

Mike, that would make an AWESOME bumper sticker!

Vinny "Bond" Marini, accepting seems to feel far less angry and judgmental!

Dana said...

Bina, and you liked it so well you WOW'ed three times! I've always found it odd that people seem afraid sexual orientation will "rub off" on them - like if you hang out with a gay person you're going to turn gay. Do you suppose they worry that their eye-sight is going to go bad if they hang out with someone wearing glasses??

Mike Golch, agreed - it's a start.

Real Live Lesbian said...

Dana: I've rubbed up against a few girls that did turn lesbian. It CAN happen.

GREAT POST! Guess I need to raise my standards a tad.

And I agree that it will be the next generation. My Love's niece absolutely loves us and considers me her aunt, while My Love's mother tolerates me. Or at least that's my take on it. I think it will be hard for some people to ever celebrate me (us.)

Jay said...

I think tolerance is the bare minimum. Total acceptance is what should be expected and given. But, we are way, way away from that.

Dana said...

Real Live Lesbian, why do you think I haven't visited yet?? *gigglesnort*

Jay, I know we are, and I know I'm being idealistic, but dang it! It *should* be that way!

Lola said...

I think on the road to Acceptance, Tolerance one of the first stops. We're not going to go straight (no pun intended) to Acceptance, without educating and enlightening people first.

Maggie said...

I hope we can move past *just* tolerance soon. I don't remember where I read it but it was about some other justice issue and the author said something like "isn't it crazy that equality has become just this utopian vision and not even close to reality?"

we're doomed said...

Tolerance for other's beliefs has served our country well. In fact the "state of tolerance" is the only reason we are still a great country in my opinion. Acceptance for other's beliefs is a whole different story.

There is no great human victory in history where acceptance was the key. Instead, time after time tolerance for our differences allowed humans to move forward on every important issue we have faced in history. If acceptance is going to be the new key guidance we use for every issue, we will all perish from this earth. Just to illustrate what I am saying. Consider the great minds that have used acceptance as their form of governance in the 20th century. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao Zedong, Che Guevara, Castro and Pol Pot. And consider our new role model for complete acceptance in the 21st century, Osama Bin Laden.

Dana, I know what you are trying to say. But acceptance is being used to force beliefs on people who do not hold those beliefs. This crap is ruining our country. I also disagree with the dictionary description. To me, Tolerance is finding common ground amongst ourselves while ignoring our differences. I'm just sayin!

Matt-Man said...

Screw tolerance. Screw acceptance. I choose to ignore. Cheers!!