Tolerance VS Acceptance

Posted Thursday, June 24th, 2010. Filed Under Voices of wisdom

I had lunch with a friend of mine the other day and she is in the midst of taking her Masters of Education. She is thoroughly enjoying it and she shared with me some of her subjects. One of them that intrigued me was a course called, Social Injustice. We started to talk and in the course of one of our discussions I used the word tolerate, “we need to learn to tolerate…” She looked at me and said, “I do not like the word tolerate for it has a negative connotation, I prefer the word acceptance”.

The irony of those two words, if I had a choice I will always choose acceptance over tolerance. Even in our school system or with our police, you will hear things like, ‘there is a zero tolerance of violence’. All words have energy and the energy does not decipher between positive or negative OR good and bad words. I have long said that we need to be careful with our messages. Rather than putting things in the ‘negative’ we need to consider putting things in a more enlightened way. If we want ACCEPTANCE than that is what we need to say, rather than using a negative to express what we do want.

Getting back to Tolerance VS Acceptance, I decided to look those two words up and get their actual definitions:

Tolerance: The state or fact of being tolerant; the act of, or capacity to endure.

Acceptance: The act of accepting, or the state of being accepted; favourable reception, favour, approval; belief; assent; agreement to terms, whether expressly or by some act constituting a virtual acknowledgment, as a contract.

WOW – look at the difference in the meaning. When we simply tolerate one another as a people, country, world, we do not really fully acknowledge the differences – we may even dislike or hate what the other is doing, and we choose to tolerate it for we feel we have no choice. We endure it. HOWEVER, when we learn to accept something we embrace it, we acknowledge the differences and allow it to be. This does not mean that we have to love or even like what the other is doing however we have agreed to allow them to be. This is one of the fundamental reasons marriages breakdown is because people choose to tolerate a behaviour in their spouse or significant other but do not acknowledge this is who they are. When you learn to accept your spouse or significant other for whom they are then you are letting them be 100% true to them.

I do not want to get into politics however I want to make a distinction – accepting someone for whom they are and their beliefs when their beliefs do NOTintend to HURT, BELITTLE, BRING DOWN, OR TRY AND CHANGE SOMEONE is not equal to acceptance of a belief system or behaviour that is meant to HURT, BRING DOWN, BELITTLE, ELIMINATE and/or CHANGE SOMEONE. People who manipulate democracy to suit their cause are not people that I choose to accept or tolerate.

Our world will be a much different place when we first realize we are all one and share the same planet. Today we know that a volcano erupting in Europe impacts the whole world. Our world leaders cannot tolerate behaviour which is meant to harm one specific group or individual. This is the ego taking over.

In Canada where there are so many different backgrounds, cultures, religions, beliefs, I will be open to accepting you and embracing your differences. BUT keep in mind that Canada is a democratic country where women’s rights are acknowledged, and you can practice your religion without fear of persecution. What I have issue is when people bring their antiquated beliefs and customs to our country that limit, destroy, or desire to stir hatred, then I say you are not welcome in Canada. You can return to your country.

ACCEPTANCE VS TOLERANCE – there is a difference. Think about this next time you are talking to your children. What can we teach them. LOVE and HATRED begin with education. I teach my children that we need to learn to love and accept each for whom we are. This is true at the individual level, provincial (state) level, country level, and global level. When a person chooses to move to a new place – city, province, state, or country then choose to embrace that place. It WILL NOT be the same as where you came from. What is the same is YOU for you take all of your beliefs, feelings, and habits with you. The degree to which you embrace and accept something, I believe, is the degree to which you will receive pleasure.

Just some food for thought. A little heavier today — Enjoy your first weekend of summer.

All my best,


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