In a nutshell the previous three parts of Essays on Tolerance we have looked at what tolerance is, and what it is not. It is absolutely imperative to understand ‘tolerance’ in the sense of how it is used in a civilized society. Moreover, it is equally as essential to stipulate to a couple of misnomers regarding tolerance.
One, understanding tolerance is the ability to acknowledge the differing views of other people; for example, in religious or political matters, and fairness toward the people who hold these different views.
Furthermore, tolerance is also the act of putting up with something or someone irritating or otherwise unpleasant. In addition, putting up with bad or harsh conditions is also being tolerant.
Two, there is a huge difference between having tolerance and the notion of acceptance. On the one hand being tolerant means putting up with something distasteful; on the other hand, acceptance means that we feel nothing is wrong with it.
We know that America was founded by people who held religion in the highest regard. People who for some reason were not being tolerated in their native countries. In part two of the series we discussed how Hollywood and the film-making industry rallied during WW II in all ways to support the war effort.
There are several religious organizations that do not condone warfare of any kind. Yet, these same folks went into the military service for national security and the preservation of their country. There is nothing wrong with a person committed to being a conscientious objector. In fact, real CO’s are treated equally and quite well in the uniformed services. Why? Simply because they are following the rules just like “everyone” else should–but unfortunately do not.
At this point–rules and laws–are at the center of differences between tolerance and acceptance. As human beings we are comforted by having a set of rules somehow knowing that our conduct is not limitless; moreover, that we are all bound by them and everyone must adhere to those boundaries. We feel protected.
The entire notion behind rules is basically saying, ‘right here is where the line is drawn’ between what is acceptable and what violates the rules in our civilized society. Consequently, rules and laws are enacted for order so we can enjoy our freedom. Imagine what a society would be like with no rules, lawlessness, and no measure of civility.
And finally why is it that most of us, as children, are taught these very rules only to forget them when we become adults? First question for today: Who is responsible for the passing on of these rules from one generation to another? Second question: Why are we taught these principles as children only to conveniently overlook them as adults?
Part IV Essays on Tolerance