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Tolerance as a Relationship Killer

Tolerance does nothing beyond putting up with people.

by Bob Kerstetter

These days, the media, blogs and public figures hum continually about tolerance—the most popular type being religious tolerance, specifically tolerance of Islam by all infidels—meaning all non-Muslims—and tolerance of anything non-Muslim by all of Islam.

Ideologues from the right, center and left—plus religionists from just about every faith—parade tolerance as a worthwhile achievement. Even US government bureaucrats recently attempted to promote religious tolerance by funding a Middle East shoulder hugging trip by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the organizer of the Muslim community center planned for construction within eyesight of the former World Trade Center towers in New York City. In almost every case, those advocating tolerance are demanding it for their own points of view while pushing away the thoughts of others.

Tolerance makes little attempt to understand anything beyond its own narrow ways. It lacks sympathy or empathy. When you find people claiming to show tolerance, their own biases almost always color it with patronizing smugness, in essence saying, “I am putting up with [fill in whatever you hate here] because I am enlightened. I am tolerating you.” If you try sharing a different way of seeing something, instead of finding openness, you receive a discussion-smothering sock shoved in your face, with words something like this, “Oh, there is little purpose in discussing this. This is so foreign to my own experience.” Tolerance limits relationships.

By definition, tolerance does nothing beyond putting up with people. It places itself in a position of self-justified superiority. Tolerance knows nothing of acceptance. It is a self-delusional intoxicant preying on the hearts, souls and minds of socially and emotionally immature cultures.

Partly because of tolerance, our worldwide culture is stuck. If we ever expect to move beyond book burning, name calling and killing, we must learn to accept each other and respectfully listened to each other, even when we disagree. Acceptance can heal. Tolerance usually kills.

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