“Tolerance implies a respect for another person, not because he is wrong or even because he is right, but because he is human.” – John Cogley Commonweal
In today’s world of high-stress jobs, cash-strapped individuals, and polarized society, short tempers are fast becoming the norm rather than the exception. In order to combat this epidemic, tolerance is desperately needed. For every outbreak of anger and flash of frustration, tolerance is a balm that can sooth frayed nerves and prevent further eruptions.
Tolerance can be defined as the realization that everyone is at varying levels of character development. It can also be defined as the acceptance of different views. Tolerance is not one of the easier character traits to develop, but it is one of the most important in today’s world.
One aspect of tolerance is learning not to judge others by outward appearances. Forming a quick opinion of someone is easy. The harder job is choosing to really understand the individual. It is imperative to take the time to really know the person. This is particularly important in a world of quick and instant communication. Much of today’s communication is conducted through text, phone, instant messaging, or email. All of these forms completely cut out the face-to-face aspect that helps each of us determine the true meaning of words. The problem with a text is that it consists only of words. Many times, there is no way to determine what the person sending the text meant by their words. I’ve received messages from my friends that, to an observer, might seem hurtful or offensive. However, because I know my friends well, I am usually able to decipher tone and meaning from those words. As a result, I can refrain from making snap judgments that could seriously injure my friendship. If I didn’t understand my friends so well, communications would often be misunderstood and harsh judgments would occur more regularly. When we don’t take the opportunity to truly get to know someone and go beyond superficial communication, it is much easier to fall in the habit of being judgmental of his or her actions.
Tolerance definitely doesn’t mean everything goes, but it does mean that it is alright to be different. Learning to disagree without becoming disagreeable and, when administering or receiving correction, learning to seek the truth and resolve the issue in a peaceful and respectful manner are key in creating a working, polite, and considerate relationship with others. People are different. They have different beliefs, opinions, personalities, communication styles, and preferences. I’m sure we can all recall a time when we became annoyed with someone simply because of a difference. When confronted with difference, tolerance encourages us to not be judgmental and condemning of those different than us. One of my friends and I have differing opinions on quite a few things. We’ve been able to discuss our different opinions in a manner that not only lets us remain friends but also allows us to increase our understanding of the disputed topics. Whether we agree or not, tolerance pushes us to restrain our emotions, refrain from mocking or belittling, and embrace a cordial relationship despite any differences we may have.
I hope everyone will take time to look within and find tolerance. When you find yourself becoming annoyed, determine the root of that frustration and purposefully decide if it is something that needs to be let go of or if it is something that needs to be addressed. Remember, not everyone agrees and that is what makes us unique. Look at differences as a way to learn, expand, and work to reserve judgment until you have the full story. Embrace tolerance as the cure to an increasingly fast-paced world.