Tolerance: a fair, objective and permissive attitude toward opinions, beliefs, and practices that differ from one’s own.
The world, well, America at least, has found a new addiction: tolerance. Everywhere we see billboards, advertisements and people all claiming the same thing- be tolerant. Every kind of religion, gender, lifestyle, job, ethnicity, attitude and/or actions are to be analyzed objectively and never are to have objective truth attached. Objective truth to some degree is a taboo in our culture because it denies individuals to make choices. That’s probably why people hate customer service workers and service industries so much. Due to the fact that people are given an objective truth (to an extent) rather than a choice of control.
I actually work in the customer service industry as a salesman and let me tell you, when things don’t go someone’s way, all hell breaks loose. A couple days ago I had a customer walk in around the afternoon. He had the typical face of a pissed off customer wraught with anger, frustration and the “I’m going to be a complete douche today” look. All my co-workers, including myself looked at one another internally shouting, “Please, you help him!” Since I was the youngest at that moment I was immediately thrown into the fire and boy, the fire was scorching. As soon as I asked, “How can I help you today sir?” the man blew up like a volcano. I serviced the man as best I could for about an hour and a half and he eventually left the same way he came in. I won’t dive too much into detail but at the end of the day the problem was that I couldn’t give him what he wanted: choice. Everything he asked of me was either not a power I possessed as a salesperson or completely against my company’s policy. So I firmly had to say, “Sorry, I can’t do that sir.” The objective truths that I gave the customer was the cause of his frustration and anger and society largely operates in a similar fashion. Resulting in the creation of a counter-attack which was to elevate tolerance as a desirable characteristic in individuals.
I’m not saying tolerance is bad but I am trying to point out that it’s not as good as people make it out to be. Frankly, the message of tolerance is just as bigoted and hypocritical as narrow-mindedness. Reinforcing the idea that tolerance should be praised and intolerance should be dejected is very similar to what narrow-minded practices also preach (e.g. “You can’t do that because my way is better. Therefore, you should follow what I do”). Yet, because the word, “tolerance” is included, everything is automatically permissible and more likeable. Following tolerance came acceptance and acceptance had and still has many problematic implications in society today.
Acceptance: The action or process of being received as adequate or suitable.
To accept everyone and anyone is realistically impossible. No matter how many people one may accept there are always people one will reject. Even the people who an individual “accepts” aren’t completely accepted but rather selectively accepted. For example, a person may accept the fact that “x” person likes Apple products but will reject the same person because he or she doesn’t use Apple earphones. Selective acceptance is to filter out all of the parts of a person one isn’t fond of then ignoring them. Because the individual created an illusion that “x” person is likeable to their standards, it is concluded that he or she is an accepting person. What’s even more interesting is that people often make enough room to tolerate certain qualities that they are not fond of to strengthen their belief that they are accepting.
The sum of these two qualities frequently became associated with love. Love by definition is, affection based on benevolance. In other words affection to do good to another person. Lately what I have been questioning is, “Does tolerance and acceptance stem from my disposition to do good to another person or for some other extneral/internal reason?” Sometimes the answer was yes (e.g. yesterday’s blog post) but many other times it was no. After further evaluation I found that many times when I was “tolerating” or “accepting” someone it was due to my inclination to look like a good person. The world likes “good” people and goodness regularly is paired with tolerance and acceptance making it difficult to act on the basis of love.
The conclusion I came to was that tolerance and acceptance are avenues that love could come from but so are narrow-mindedness and stubbornness. We all have had that one friend where he or she would be so against the person you were dating. Not because they didn’t like you or didn’t want you to be happy but because they did like you and did want you to be happy. Too many times my friend’s or parent’s stubborness about a certain topic have led me to realize their love for me and my well-being. Too many times have I witnessed tolerance ending up to be a toxic mess. To many times I have seen acceptance rip relationships apart. Too many times can I recall that those moments weren’t love.
Love is a complicated concept. It is tolerant and understanding but also firm and truthful. It is accepting and receptive but also rejecting and spurning. However, that’s probably why the human race is so fascinated by it. Love is something that is so difficult to completely comprehend that we can’t help to reimagine and redefine what it is on a daily basis. Love in essence, is a paradox so wide, deep and high that it is everything.