Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What is Tolerance

by Kathy Foust

I don't know about you, but somedays it seems as if everyone wants some kind of specialized treatment. Sometimes those that are the loudest about it are the ones who end up being bullied or end up being bullies themselves. With everyone demanding approval for their own lifestyles and us trying to teach our children to develop their own morals, how does a parent know what to tell their children anymore? I think it's time to start taking a look at the difference between tolerance and approval and every individual's right to both.

I personally try to teach my child to be accepting of others. We are not a prejudiced household by any stretch of the imagination. However, from time to time there is some confusion about what's acceptable and what's not. As a parent, I have to be very careful of how I word the difference between being tolerate, approving and contributing. Because you see, I firmly believe that my son should treat everyone with respect, regardless of their personal values. It's up to him to maintain his own values. That doesn't mean he has to approve or like everything everyone around us does.

I think we have in some ways gone too far in asking for acceptance. At all times there is some group somewhere that is screaming to be accepted or approved of. Sometimes it seems to me that they  purposely aim for those that have different values than them. But wait, isn't everyone entitled to their own values? Isn't that the main issue?

Tolerance is that act of accepting the fact that people are unique and have every right to be. That doesn't mean that everyone is going to like them or that everyone is going to approve of them. And while I certainly don't condone any type of harassment, I don't condone antagonizing things either. The double standard has to go. We cannot preach about acceptance and rights, then deny people with opposing views to have their own set of rights and limits of acceptance.

So, for myself, I will continue to teach my son to have respect for people and to uphold his own values, regardless of how anyone else is behaving. I will not force him to accept what to him may be unacceptable and I will not encourage him to try to convince others that his way is the only way either. Because no matter how you slice it, someone is always going to be around to be different than you and that doesn't mean that either of you have to change.

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