Tolerance is a virtue. We all know that. But virtues can be a bit tough to imbibe and tolerance also needs a huge dose of patience.
What is tolerance and why is tolerance a virtue?
Tolerance finds a balance between indulgence—anything goes—and narrow-mindedness.
The book “The Truth about Tolerance” describes ten “truths of tolerance”. Few are paraphrased here:
- Tolerance is a patience toward a practice or opinion you disapprove of— Tolerance is being agreeable—listening carefully and treating the person with dignity and respect—while you disagree. You continue a critical analysis of all you know and believe to be true, in light of the different viewpoint expressed by the person you disagree with.
- Tolerance is the virtue that makes peace possible—Tolerance allows people the liberty and personal freedom of self-determination. Toleration promotes the free exchange of ideas, including criticism and debate of public policy in the interest of the people.
- Nontolerace is essential and distinct from intolerance—Certain reprehensible behavior cannot be tolerated. Nontolerance—the straightforward refusal to tolerate a wrong—expresses the limits of tolerance. Tolerant people are non-tolerant towards brutality. Paradoxically, intolerance is not to be tolerated.
So we establish that Tolerance is agreeing to disagree while expanding our patience on a particular matter. Patience is a measure of our inner strength and tolerance usually requires a lot of that strength.
So is there a way we can handle most situations with much less stress and test of our patience? I think you will agree with me that for most of us patience is in limited quantity and we never know how near we are to our threshold value of patience.
So what is the alternative? Is there something which can make tolerating easier?
Acceptance is another virtue. Acceptance starts with self acceptance. Firstly accept who you are with all your faults. We all have certain good and bad qualities. But unless we accept our faults completely we cannot even begin to change them. Similarly we have to understand that each human being is different than us. Each one of us have different qualities, different strengths and weakness, different habits. No two persons are completely alike. So once we accept this disparity, we also accept that capability of each individual to do any particular work varies from our expectation and from how we will do the same work.
The acceptance of this disparity in human qualities and characteristics is a fact of life and needs our complete acceptance and understanding, The more we exert to understand other persons views and perspectives ,the more we accept the other person and the less patience is required to tolerate their views and actions.
So why does our tolerance level reduces with our near and dear ones whom we love. That is because our expectation level increases with them. We expect them to understand us better, to support us more, to believe in us more, to be more supportive than others.
So when they express their views which are in contrast to ours we feel more let down than with those who are not very close to us. Our expectations with those who we love is the main reason of our intolerance with them. Human beings have a deep capacity to love yet our expectations usually destroy our capability to love unconditionally. See my article here on unconditional love- https://wordpress.com/post/loveandsprituality.home.blog/13
But our near and dear ones are also human beings with wide disparity of qualities, characteristic and beliefs than us. Accepting this fact helps reduces our expectations and boots our tolerance levels.
So there may be still some areas where tolerance is required as acceptance cannot cover all areas with every person. Yet if we can exert acceptance on most situations then we reduce the amount of patience we exert in any particular situation which not only helps safeguard our store of patience but it is also instrumental in enhancing our patience stores. For every situation we handle with acceptance our inner strength growths and that further fortifies our store of patience.
In today’s life where we have so much of stress, patience is in short supply. So building strong and healthy relationships is the need of the hour. Tolerance can only take us so far. Once we start to accept situations and other persons qualities and views, accept that their thinking can differ from us, it leads to a much more stress free and happier life.
Acceptance and tolerance are not only necessary virtues to have, they are also very necessary for our happiness and to be able to spread happiness to others.
SO which is better- both are needed for a healthy happy life, but we should try to enhance our acceptance of situations and people. Acceptance involves our mind not only our will. With our mind we can rationalize that each individual is different and it is not necessary that everyone feels the same way about various things. Once our mind accepts this fact, tolerating the other person’s views and actions becomes much more easier. This in turn helps relieving us of stress and in preserving our strengths.