What is tolerance?

Today, tolerance seems to be marked by defending any position except for intolerance. And intolerance is simply not holding the fashionable believes of the political left. But what really is tolerance, and how can we apply it properly in our society so that it reaps rewards.

For instance, saying that you are morally opposed to gay marriage, even though you argue that the government should not have their hands in it or stop it, you are intolerant. If you suggest that maybe systemic racism is not the problem for minorities, rather a failed education system is to blame, then you are intolerant. But is that what tolerance really is? Is it accepting anything that anybody does without commentary or discussion on their actions are police? Is it letting riots break out in the streets because they claim to be for tolerance?

Let’s discuss some scenarios that really are tolerance.

Tolerance is being able to share a beer and watch the game at a bar with a friend after a 45 minute screaming match over the morality of abortion rather than ending your friendship.

Tolerance is two neighbors having a chat at the mailbox this by having opposing candidates’ yard signs in their front lawns staring at them.

Tolerance does not mean you agree on everything, but can move past the disagreements and find commonalities, or at the very least be civil with each other.

You see, tolerance is not the absence of differing opinions or making sure everyone is “on the same page.” It is being able to be polite to someone who you disagree with vehemently. After all, what does their opinion matter to you? Being able to accept others’ ideas is the first step towards a society that is truly tolerant. My stance on abortion or gay marriage doesn’t affect how I do my job or my coursework at school. It really doesn’t change how I will raise my kids. Letting opinion get in the way of friendship is intolerant.

The reason this is important is we are confusing opinion and political differences with what makes us human. It is the foundation of a society to be able to respectfully disagree while they watch a show at the Coliseum, listen to Socrates debate Aristotle, attend a jousting tournament, go to church or temple or synagogue, cheer for our favorite team, or just share a drink and a good conversation.

So next time you want to be intolerant of intolerance, don’t. If you can have a lively discussion and walk away without fists flying, do it!!! If you can’t because you or the other person are too intolerant of intolerance, here’s an idea: Just talk about something else over an ice cold beer.

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