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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Why Tolerance can be Dangerous

Why tolerance can be dangerous ?

    There is lot of talk about lack of tolerance. Is tolerance really a virtue ? so it seems . Let us look at the dictionary meaning of tolerance.

the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with.

the capacity to endure continued subjection to something such as a drug or environmental conditions without adverse reaction.

     Suppose a friend of yours tolerates you... it means he dislikes you or disagrees with you .. not very flattering isn't it ? Can you continue to be friends tolerating each other ? It would be more like a ' Mahagathbandhan' of Indian politics, ready to break apart once the immediate target is achieved.

     What happens when you tolerate someone ? As long as you are in a good mood or in a good environment , it is easy to put up with the differences. And when your own comfort is affected , the tolerance turns to intolerance and to violence. It is always easy to tolerate when you are in an AC room, well rested and with enough to eat as compared to being in heat , dust and grime, deprived of sleep and on empty stomach.

    Yet why does tolerance seem to be a virtue ? Is it  because we consider 'intolerance' as the only other alternative ? There would be a paradigm shift in our thinking if we consider another alternative to tolerance , which is 'acceptance'.
    How long can a husband and wife merely 'tolerate' each other? For the relation to be stable there has to be acceptance of each other , complete with warts and all. A student tolerating mathematics or a language cannot go very far in the academic world till such time he feels comfortable with these subjects or  drops them altogether.

    Does it mean we need to like everyone and agree with everyone's opinions? Not necessarily so. It is just an acceptance that just as you have your opinion, the others have their opinions.

    Where does the word 'tolerance' fit in ? Whenever there is dislike, disagreement and conflicts, tolerance at best can be an intermediate stage before the stage of 'acceptance ' is reached . To that extent ,it is better than 'intolerance'; but tolerance cannot ever be an end by itself and a total divorce may actually be better than a 'permanent state of tolerance'.