Tolerance and Acceptance or Tolerance vs. Acceptance

In this thread, I made a bad analogy, to which the wise and gracious Polycarp replied:

I responded:

First of all, I want to apologize again if I offended anyone with the original comment.

I didn’t want to discuss this exchange further in Snark Hunter’s thread, since he had asked a valid question, and I thought it deserved everyone’s full attention. However…

Although I do agree with Poly’s statement above, I just have the feeling there’s a GD there. I certainly respect the right of others to believe what they will (with the understanding that their right to believe stops short of it interfering with someone else’s same right or legislating their beliefs so that everyone must behave according to that particular code), but I’m not sure I always tolerate other folks beliefs. For example: the woman who lives next to my parents is an absolute loony, Bible-thumping, brain-dead Fundamentalist Christian. The kind that gives all Christians in general, and FCs in particular, a bad name. I absolutely accept that this works for her. What I’m questioning is whether I can truly be said to tolerate those beliefs, since I will go out of my way to end a conversation as it wends its way to her proseletyzing me. Ditto my mother, who is a much more liberal Christian, but with whom I have had several rough conversations on the subject of religion recently. I respect that her faith works for her. I do not want her trying to convince me.

I’m not just talking about proseletyzation, though - the next-door neighbor once said, “well, we wanted a new piano so we prayed for it and God gave it to us.” :rolleyes: <- my reaction to this statement, then and now.

Do we have to tolerate to accept? If we accept, is it presumed we tolerate?

You know until I read Snarks thread I thought I was really tolerant of beliefs. But I just can’t be tolerant of something that causes that much hatred (either self as in Snarks case, or outwardly directed). I don’t think tolerance and acceptance are the same or presumed. Sorry for the IMHO type answer.

I think the term “tolerance” has been hijacked by certain ideologies to be a shadow of its former self.

To tolerate means to “allow to exist” (beliefs) without accepting those beliefs. Big difference.
That’s why I always cringe when I hear the term loosely used by anyone in politics, academia, hollywood or the media.

That is, Tedster, precisely where I was coming from.

I find “toleration” to be a milquetoast attitude of “Well, certainly you can believe that sort of garbage if you want, because I’m big enough to let you get away with doing it.” In other words, I’m combining judging them for their ideas, faith, or whatever, with the self-ego-stroking of being magnanimous about their rights.

Sqrl, Matt, and the OP herself have enlightened me about things in their belief structure that I’d totally misunderstood. And because I feel that God reveals Himself in as many ways as people are open to receiving Him – while remaining strictly Christian; Jesus was the one way in which He made really clear Who and What He was and what He wanted – I am accepting of what others think, believe, and feel. Because whatever is meaningful to those I meet, and come to know and love, is going to be somewhat meaningful to me.

At the same time, I do have a strong and sincere desire to lead people to God as He has made Himself known to me. But I don’t feel that drive-by witnessing does the slightest bit of good, 9999 times out of 10000. I take my cue from Jesus’s words in John:

Anyway, that’s where I’m coming from, and why I reacted to dogsbody’s wording the way I did.


I also accept. But the object(s) of the two verbs are distinct. It seems to me that these discussions often group a multitude of attitudes under a single banner, which often leads to confusion. Poly, if you will permit me I will use you as an example “object”.

I tolerate Polycarp’s belief. I do not accept the belief. Accepting the belief (Christianity[sub]Poly[/sub]) would imply that I found the worldview those beliefs represent to be objectively valid (or subjectively calid within my reference frame.)
I accept that Polycarp’s belief is subjectively valid. It works in Poly’s reference frame, and I recognize that from mine.
I reject the validity Polycarp’s belief in my own reference frame.
I accept, tolerate, recognize and respect Polycarp in a manner that recognizes that he can neither be separated from not summarized by his faith.

I do not believe that I am eithe milquetoast or egotistically magnanimous in these position. Luckily I have already rejected the validity of Poly’s belief within my frame of reference. :wink:

I do believe, however, that my typing skills lack either objective or sunjective validity.


Gaudere’s law holds even when you post about your own typos.

…I’m kidding about that one. Old LBMB alumni hopefully chuckled though…

Tolerance means accepting something that isn’t right for you may be right for someone else.

The problem is that there are limits to what one should tolerate. I love my fiancee, but I wouldn’t tolerate her sleeping with someone else even though there are people who have that kind of relationship.

So, the rules change a bit when it’s someone close to you. The more someone directly affects your life and livelihood, the less you are going to tolerate because it starts to infringe on your own values, morality or even just your own confort zine involving things far less cosmic than you might think… I mean, Drainy tolerates that I don’t wash the dishes as quickly as she would like, you know?

Now, the rules change even for people you don’t know or will NEVER EVEN MEET if you find their behavior reprehensible towards society. I will not tolerate murdering innocent children, for example. No matter I don’t know the kids killed or the killer, I justwon’t.

But then we get into the subjective realm of what is reprehensible towards society?

Some people seem to think that whom you choose to sleep with is important in this regard. I do not. But if someone for some silly reason does think that homosexuality is a problem for mankind (and we all know that some people, whether it’s because of religious dogma or simple prejudices, do feel this way), I understand why they would make an issue out of it.

So, the problem isn’t in tolerance per se, as much as, there’s never going to be clear boundaries or definitions of what is tolerable to begin with.

Personally, I’m proud that I’m an intolerant bastard. Anything and everything that is different from me, IMOSHO, should be utterly and completely destroyed without hesitation.

Well, except for Ding-Dong’s. I like those.

So everything isn’t the same as either me or a ding-dong should be destroyed.

On second thought… I kinda like women. They can stay to.

And TV. TV’s kinda groovy, so TV’s gonna stick around, too.

And, you know, almost everybody is valuable, since they may lend me money someday. So, for purely selfish reasons, humanity can stay.

Also, animals are kinda cute (even the ugly, stinky ones!), so we’ll leave them alone.

And religion can be useful (opiate of the masses? Give people something to believe in? Faith? Either way, it works!), so I’ll let people keep that.

But… you know… I just can’t STAND licorice-flavored jelly beans, so THOSE must be destroyed! Immediately!

I tend to agree. Tolerance is a miserable little attitude, and certainly not one that deserves to be considered as one of the crowning achievments of a society.

However it might be one of the most neccesary ones. In a civil society (in all meanings of the word), in a secular society (meaning one that does not mandate a relgion to be a citizen) in a pluralist society , we cannot live at all without tolerance, and we can not live very well without making tolerance some kind of ideal.

Because there’s just no damn was of getting people to accept each other. I mean there’s no way, short of the Thought Police, of mandating it.

But tolerance is something we can, to a point, and do, to a point, insist on in this society. And a good thing too.

Hmmm…I could put it this way. Tolerance is your civic duty. Acceptance is merely your moral duty.

I agree. Sometimes one has to “tolerate” something just because there’s nothing one can do about it. For example, an AIDS patient has to “tolerate” his or her affliction, yes?

I guess one can conclude that tolerance on it’s own shouldn’t be considered a good thing in and of itself.

I disagree.

Tolerance is the ability to extend respect to that which you think is wrong. It is a very axpansive attitude that grows from the proposition that humans are limited, fallible, beings. It is the understanding that my own ethics/faith/understanding are not so perfect that I am justified in forcing them on you.

Like any other action, tolerance is not ethical in and of itself. The value of tolerance is dependent upon the context of the choice.

For instance, I tolerate the fact that many of you find tolerance “miserable”. I do not accept your view–it is not valid for me. Not do I find it necessary to stifle my desire to express an opposing view. But even if I had the power I would in no way act to punish or repress the opinion that tolerance is miserable.

To me, that represents the finest balance between faith to my self and respect to others.

Hmmmmm…interesting discussion.

To me “tolerance” as it’s bandied about by various PC interest groups has become an annoying term, perhaps best illustrated by the liberal use of “INtolerance” as a disparagement. I’ve run across more than a few organizations who have adopted “tolerance” or “stamping out intolerance” as part of its stated mission or core tenets. I think this is, well, silly, in view of the fact that such people equate “tolerance” with “open-armed acceptance”, and if you don’t jump up and down with whole-hearted support on their partisan beliefs, then you must be intolerant.

“What? You think hate-crime legislation is a bad idea? Don’t agree with affirmative action policies? Elimination of welfare? Think people should be sexually responsible? GASP Why, you’re INTOLERANT! It’s people like you who are at the root of our racist,misogynistic, oppress-the-socially-disadvantaged society”.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for fostering a social climate of live and let live; I’m completely in favor of coming down hard on cretins who act out their hatreds of others with violence and other bad mojo. But I guess my bottom line is, don’t force “tolerance” down my throat by saying I MUST adopt your worldview or else I’m immoral.

I guess I view the word “tolerance” these days as used more in the realm of political weaponry so it has bad connotations for me.

Ummm…I said tolerance was a miserable little attitude- when contrasted with acceptance. Which requires a deeper level of empathy. I went on to say it was (to paraphrase) the cornerstone of our democracy.

It is my opinion that we agree about the value of tolerance. However I will tolerate dissent.

I think that tolerance means not taking action against something. It is not an attitude, but an act (or rather, the absence of an act). You can think that homosexuality is the most vile, disgusting, sinful act in the world, but if you don’t treat homosexuals any different than heterosexuals, you’re tolerating homosexuality. Acceptance, however, is an attitude; it is a belief that the behavior is ok. It is possible to accept and tolerate, it is possible to tolerate but not accept, and it is possible (but very difficult) to accept but not tolerate.

Consider the following statements:

“Hey, look, it’s that Bob guy… let’s tolerate him.”

“Hey, look, it’s that Bob guy… let’s accept him.”

Which seems the more positive? Would you rather be “tolerated” or “accepted”? “Tolerance” is what you have to do… “Acceptance” is something you do because you want to.

Hey look, there’s a belief system that violates several tenets of my own belief system.

Hey look, there’s a person who believes in a system that I do not.

I tolerate beliefs that I find personally offensive.
I accept people that believe differently than I.

[sub]The above is a generalization. Neither my tolerance nor my acceptance are infinitely elastic.[/sub]

I’ll take “noticed”. :smiley:

Don’t agree, my alternate personality. You don’t have to tolerate anything/anyone more than you have to accept it.
You can always “shun” that poor bastard Bob you keep talking about.

To me, “toleration” is not an ego-enhancer, but instead self-abegnation. “My feelings/opinions do not matter in this regard - I must recognize that it is none of my damn business, regardless of how contrary it is to my beliefs/world view.” Quite frankly, I think “accept” is a hell of a lot easier to achieve - through whatever processes, your worldview has altered. Once it has, whatever is at issue is no longer a problem for us.
And we all alter our world views all the time. Why, I believe five contradictory things before breakfast!


Ah, I see. I was trying to get at that… you “Accept” something unless you consider that something to be a negative force.

I was generalizing, my once-accused sock. If you wanna start getting down and dirty with those horrid “specifics”… I shudder to think what that may do to the planet. :smiley:

Not precisely, no. “Negative” is a value-laden term. While many things which I do not accept might fall into such a category, I reject others based upon my understanding of reality. For instance, I do not accept the view that the moon is made of green cheese. This is not a value judgment, it is a consequence of the way I model reality.

Really, I think Sua summarized it quite nicely. If you need to see it paraphrased: Tolerance is the subjugation of one’s personal certainty to ethical responsibility.

Acceptance is the inclusion of a new idea into one’s personal worldview.