Was there ever a chore or task you always dreaded doing, but you knew it had to be done and put up with it anyways? What do I fear doing the most?
Well for me, even to this day is doing laundry. The whole process, from start to finish, feels unbearable sometimes. Having to drag a heavy load down the stairs and dump it into the washer is a little irritating. Having to wait hours on end between washing, drying, and checking if the load is ready to be folded is unbelievably time consuming. Then comes the folding, where the whole family magically disappears and you have fold everyone else’s clothes all by your lonely self. And I’ve put up with it since I was a mere child. Sorry about the little tirade, it seems I got a little too worked up. Digression aside, you tolerate these tasks because you know it has to be done at some point. That’s what tolerance is, being able accept something because its an inevitable or important thing that must be addressed. That’s my definition at least. The dictionary definition might differ a little, but you get the point. My main point today though is to try to understand the context and concept of tolerance, both in the past and today.
Tolerance is a very complicated concept. But then again, so are a lot of things in this world, and especially so in human society. The degrees and form of “tolerance” vary vastly between different societies and time periods. It is contradictory. Can you be tolerant of intolerant groups. If you aren’t tolerant of those groups, doesn’t that just make you part of an intolerant group as well? Of course that isn’t taking into account the amount of tolerance that groups or people might have for others. So where is the line drawn between being tolerant or not? You can’t judge how tolerant a society or group is if you don’t have a basis to defining that tolerance either. Do we refer back to history, or amongst our modern day peers?
Let’s say we use history as a basis of comparison for tolerance. All throughout history tolerance plays a big role into the shaping history itself. Had the pilgrims remained tolerant to the religion encroaching on them, they never would have come to America and setup a religiously devout colony. Had Hitler and the nazi party remained tolerant of all other non-aryan races, World War II might’ve been a different story (which isn’t to say there wouldn’t be a war however). Even women were wrongly prosecuted and executed as witches because society was too afraid of them.
History has been a brutal one in terms of intolerance to say the least. However, I don’t think we really past that point just yet.
People may complain about there being a lack of tolerance today, to which they have every right to of course. The idea of discriminating people based on their beliefs still occur today, with the most popular issue being Islam. Many people can’t tolerate Islam in their societies today, and its not without reason. ISIS has a society and structure based on not tolerating anyone who doesn’t accept their beliefs. This just happens to be the rest of the world. And with so much fear mongering in today’s media combined with the actions of extremist religious groups, it easy to see that people have become intolerant because they fear for their own safety from these groups. Others would argue that this intolerance against whole groups goes too far, becoming an overreaction to world events. Both sides have their own legitimate reasons behind their rationale.
Lets end this on a bit of a positive note however. While we may be far from Spinoza’s virtue of a fully tolerant society, we have made a lot of progress. Some groups and societies might be a bit lacking in the tolerance department, but as for the rest of us, I think the rest of the world has learned to grow a little more tolerant as time goes on.