My definition of the word is "to put up with". I tolerate my co-workers, the kids on the subway, tourists. Yet if you gave me a magic wand to make them disappear, oh those kids would be so gone, tourists too. It is a toss up for the co-workers because sometimes they do work and the product is decent, sometimes. But there are no magic wands to banish loud cell phone callers and obnoixous panhandlers, instead there is tolerance.
I tolerate these various things and people because it is the price of living in a free society. Cell phones are affordable, so people can have inane conversations on the bus or train. Children are free of fear and can move about independently on public transit, and so unsupervised they act as if they were raised in a barn. Panhandlers, the homeless (which they may or maynot be) are free from forced institutionalization. Freedom to ride the rails at any age, affordable phones, and freedom from the fear that anyone can lock you up in the looney bin is why I tolerate the things around me.
I have noticed in the current political and in my church religious atmosphere a misuse of the word 'tolerance'. It has become more than just "to put up with" it seems to mean "accept, validate, and support" which to me endangers identity. I am a Christian and I tolerate other faiths. I don't agree with them but I tolerate them as part of the social deal that I am free to worship and express joy in the Lord, when I cannot express my love of G-d freely, then the worth of tolerance is devalued. Please don't ask me to accept as a part of my faith aspects that go against it or weaken it.
I like Hari Krishnas. Had them on campus at UF. They had a big yellow house and sometimes I'd hear them come down the street.
They were cool. However I disagree with them theologically. No matter, they can minister in their way and freely express their faith. We all should be able to freely express our faith leaving from our own houses going down the street singing.
But I think I digress a bit.
Tolerance for me, at the most basic level means that the white supremist does not kill his African American neighbor or threaten him. He can ignore his neighbor. It is Catholics putting up with the Protestants and vis versa. It is tribe A puting up with tribe B. However such a peace is hard to maintain.
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