The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.
Example: “the tolerance of corruption”
For the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about the concept of tolerance, acceptance and compassion. For the sake of time, I decided to write my thoughts about each one in different posts. So, today’s post is about tolerance (duh, Ingebird it’s in the title. LOL).
When I think of tolerance, I think about the times I lived in communities where my neighbors lived a few feet away and sometimes, like the condominium I lived at a couple of years ago, my neighbor was in the condo above me. She had hardwood floors and I could hear walking. I had to learn to tolerate people who at times played their TVs, video games and music way too loud, especially during the summer months when everyone’s patio doors were open. I lived in Southern California and the freeways were usually packed. I had to tolerate rude drivers who got angry when I didn’t drive fast enough (to be honest I am a slow driver. There just isn’t any place I need to get to in a hurry). Now that we moved to a rural area, there’s mostly two-lane highways so I piss off a whole new group of people. The way I see it is, they should thank me. If it weren’t for me driving slow, they would miss out seeing the beautiful trees. Driving slower gives them a chance to take in the sights while going to their destination. There are places where passing is allowed, so many drivers take advantage of that.
There are other forms of tolerance. I read a transcription from a talk by Ratnaghosa about tolerance which he called, The Art of Disagreement.
From a Buddhist perspective, tolerance is extremely important and it has been a hallmark of Buddhism down the twenty-five centuries of its history. Tolerance is the acceptance that other people hold different views from ourselves. Tolerance is the willingness to allow others to be different in their views and actions. Above all tolerance is the absolute avoidance of using power, violence or coercion to force other people to think and believe as we do<!–em>.
I get where he’s coming from and at the same time I wonder just how much tolerance should be tolerated before one says enough is enough? Hate speech comes to my mind. For the past year (not as much now) more and more hate groups are gathering in public squares, universities, or marching in the streets, spewing plain old hateful words against certain people who they seem to think are getting more rights than them. In other words, the members of these groups think they are getting a smaller and smaller piece of the American Pie. They feel their way of life is threatened (with the help of certain news channels, right-wing talk shows and our own president.)
On the other hand, I don’t like political correctness. It smacks of censorship which reminds me of Fascism and book burning. If we can’t talk about things that might offend some people, then how we can begin to understand each other and hopefully someday get along? Where is the middle ground? Is there one? Can we have a dialogue without mudslinging? What about active listening? With all the yelling, how can anyone hear anyone anyway?
I limit the amount of news I read because there is only so much time in the day and I prefer to spend my time listening to those who have positive things to contribute to our world. I did read some social media accounts belonging to hate groups were deleted which prompted comments from people who are against censorship and want free speech no matter what. Like I mentioned before, I get that…but this hate speech has led to violence and for the past year hate crimes are increasing. It seems as though this speech empowered some people to act out, who probably weren’t emotionally stable to begin with.
Having a disagreement can still be done using Right Speech. One can still get their point across without attacking another. I believe many people join hate groups out of fear. They are fearful of people who look different and they have been convinced that they are about to lose their freedoms (happiness) by those persons who have something to gain by keeping us divided. I think if we all were exposed to many types of people at an early age, no one would feel threatened. Even where I live, there are hardly any people of color. The majority are white and conservative. When I do see a black person shopping in a local grocery store, I notice them. I never did that before. I always lived in diverse neighborhoods.
I don’t believe people all of a sudden started thinking hateful thoughts. I think we are all guilty of thinking mean things, at least some of the time. A long time ago an African-American college classmate told me she would rather have someone say a racist word to her face so she would at least know why they were acting weird around her. It would never dawn on me that someone hated me because of the color of my skin. I can’t begin to understand what that must be like.
Tolerating someone because they look different or live a different lifestyle, isn’t the same thing as tolerating their driving or loud music, which brings me to acceptance. I will write about my thoughts on acceptance in my next post…