“Change often measures our tolerance for folk different from ourselves. Can we accept their languages, their customs, their garments, and their foods into our own lives? If we can, then we form bonds, bonds that make wars less likely. If we cannot, if we believe that we must do things as we have always done them, then we must either fight to remain as we are, or die.”
― Robin Hobb, Golden Fool
This is a quote from a fiction book and yet so applicable to the events we are facing today as millions are being displaced, migrating to create a life in a foreign country with foreign customs, foreign languages and foreign views of the world.
Though, I don’t think ‘tolerance’ is the right word to use. See, tolerance is when you judge something as wrong or unacceptable but will not act upon it. Tolerance doesn’t involve openness, it doesn’t involve questioning your own views in light of someone else’s. Tolerance doesn’t allow for expansion from learning and sharing, it can only ever remain a tolerating of something that you’d rather wish wasn’t there.
Tolerance is more a suppression than anything else – it will culminate to a boiling point and, sometime somewhere, you’ll find a reason to take out your frustrations on those that are so different to you and you will justify it and say ‘I have been tolerant for a very long time, but enough is enough’ and you’ll try to either get rid of them or try to make them comply to YOUR way of living.
If tolerance is how we approach change, we are shooting ourselves in the foot.
So, I’d say – don’t be tolerant of people different to you – rather be open, approach them as one human being approaching another human being and allow yourself to see the world through their eyes.
Who knows, they might not be so different from you after all and, who knows, you might get to know a different side of yourself.
It's easy to stick to what you know and to think that 'your ways' are the standard for 'normality'. But we live in a world with different peoples, different histories, different views, different beliefs and different cultures. If all claim that their own lifestyle is the 'norm' - how will we see that the very fact that there are such great differences shows exactly that there is no such thing as 'the norm' or 'normality'.
Within the principle of 'investigate all things and keep what is good' - imagine who we would be as humanity - how we would live - what we would create. It would be quite amazing because we'd have gotten to know those who are different from us and with each encounter an exchange would have taken place of that which each saw was good in the other that they had not yet considered or tried to do for themselves. Just for a moment... Imagine...
That potential exists for us - you could see it just now. We can create it, starting by changing our attitude in our own lives.
Change brings opportunity - let's not waste opportunity on tolerance.