Several weeks ago, I heard a friend (much smarter than me) speak, and she said something that struck me then, and has stuck with me.
Tolerance implies disagreement.
Think about that for a minute. That's extremely profound, and seems all too obvious now that I see it in all its clarity, but it never quite struck me that way before.
In today's political culture, people equate tolerance with acceptance, but that destroys the very definition of the word. Tolerance does not mean acceptance. In point of fact, they are about as opposite as you can get.
I'd say it's high time we reclaim tolerance. We can, for lack of a better word, "co-exist" with a variety of differing opinions. That's tolerance. But we don't have to agree with them. We can use persuasion and rhetoric to change minds while we still respect that there are opposing viewpoints out there and not everyone will always agree with us. That is, by its very definition, the reality of tolerance: existing in a state of disagreement.
The Middle English definition for tolerance is "the action of bearing hardship." Fascinating, isn't it? Sometimes agreeing to disagree is quite a hardship. That gives even more meaning and depth to the idea of tolerating an opposing view, doesn't it? It certainly does for me.
It's high time we reclaim our language and the use of terms. To tolerate something doesn't mean you like it or accept it. And eradicating the fallacious use of this term to bring about what most who preach tolerance want (full, unequivocal acceptance) is long overdue. Say what you really mean. Don't redefine words to fit your twisted purposes.
Honestly, the most intolerant people I know are, ironically, the ones who use that word the most.
Here's the bottom line. I can co-exist with opposing views, wrong as they may be. I'm about as truly tolerant as they come. I love a good debate. And I love having a lively discussion about issues with which I disagree.
Here's the real question for you "tolerance" preachers out there: do you? Because my guess is not. So please, for the love of the English language, stop torturing words into meaning what they don't. Be intellectually honest. I know that's sometimes a hard thing to do. So... at least invest in a dictionary?