On the first date I ever had with the woman who would one day become my wife, we watched the movie, “The Princess Bride”. It’s a funny fantasy filled with quotable moments. To this day when my wife asks for my help I respond, “As you wish.” If you know the movie, you know what that means.
There are plenty of other quotable lines. One character, named Vizzini, uses the same word every time something unexpected happens. He shouts, “INCONCEIVABLE!” He says it so often that at one point another character, Inigo Montoya, turns to him and says, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
There’s a word we use today that’s like that. It’s more than a word, really, it’s a quality of character. This quality of character is TOLERANCE.
Based on the rhetoric we see in the media, or comments we see online, most of us would stand with Inigo Montoya to say, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
It’s tempting to treat the word tolerance as a trendy buzzword that’s really just code for, “Agree with me. Don’t judge me, and don’t tell me what to do.” But that definition limits the beauty and remarkable influence that’s possible when people practice genuine tolerance.
- Tolerance recognizes that everyone is at a different stage in their personal character development.
- Tolerance makes room for individuals to look beneath the surface to discover the deeper motivations of a person’s behavior.
- Tolerance creates space for healthy conversations where misinformation, misunderstanding, and mistakes can be confessed, corrected, and forgiven.
- Tolerance empowers growth. I’ve always tried to surround myself with smart people. Once I’ve done that, I try to surround myself with smart people who disagree with me. Tolerance becomes the playing field where smart, passionate, committed, and capable people can disagree and discover a fresh perspective not possible without the tension created by an opposing point of view.
In engineering, tolerance is a measurement of how much something can bear before it breaks. May the strength of our character allow us to tolerate diverse ideas so that we might all become something more than is possible on our own.