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Is tolerance good enough?

This author suggests that we should replace 'tolerance' with 'mutual respect'. Tolerance refers to enduring and does not convey mutual affirmation or support. It implies an imbalance of power in the relationship. While respect suggests we are equally worthy of honor. There is no room for arrogance and exclusivity in mutual respect. "Mutual respect" would mean that each person is respected for their faith or views, with no requirement for others to adopt or practice it. Respect would mean acknowledging other choices as equally valid paths. He says that historically, "Tolerance was a political 'deal' arranged between enemies to quell the violence (a kind of cease-fire) without yielding any ground. Since it was not based on genuine respect for difference, it inevitably broke down." He says that if we want to promote peace and understanding in this world, we need to shift to mutual respect and not just settle for tolerance.

Hypocrisy of Tolerance


Personally (before reading this), I already thought of tolerance as being similar to mutual respect when I use the word, but I can see how it could be used in a smug, condescending way too. Reading this, I started wondering what others mean when they use the word tolerance too.

What your thoughts? Do you think tolerance and mutual respect are about the same or or they very different concepts? Do you agree with him that mutual respect conveys a more positive acceptance of others than 'mere tolerance'?


Asked by pam19 at 9:45 AM on Dec. 15, 2010 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 30 (42,186 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (17)
  • I agree. I can see the difference between tolerance and actual respect. Though I recognize that there are times when tolerance is all one can strive for - with certain people at least...

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 9:51 AM on Dec. 15, 2010

  • They aren't the same thing, but you take what you can get sometimes. I've come to expect tolerance and am pleasantly surprised when I get mutual respect.

    Answer by Scuba at 9:47 AM on Dec. 15, 2010

  • I also agree. I think a lot of groups get sucked into feeling that mutual respect would invalidate their core belief system. Take Christianity. It is genuinely believed that they have a responsibility to God to share His message and "save" the non-believers. So many Christians feel that if they accept or respect another's choices (not to believe in God or Christ...) then they are failing in their duty to God and have put their own souls at risk. I personally believe that our souls are more at risk when we choose not to have mutual respect and end up spreading hate and creating war and contention.

    Answer by misses_nick at 10:09 AM on Dec. 15, 2010

  • I agree, however I would be happy with Tolerance. Big change always takes small steps, and while Mutual Respect and Understanding is the ultimate goal, tolerance is the first step that needs to be taken. You don't get to skip over the early stages, because it simply won't work. Although, yes, it would be more than nice to just skip all the little early stages in the movement and go straight to the goods, but I prefer to live in a realistic world.

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 10:02 AM on Dec. 15, 2010

  • I prefer mutual respect over tolerance.. It is more positive sounding for sure!

    Answer by Shaneagle777 at 11:04 AM on Dec. 15, 2010

  • I agree with the author, they are different. Mutual respect involves a higher level of acceptance and regard for differences, IMO- At times, tolerance appears mandated or forced; lip service only.


    Answer by Sisteract at 10:56 AM on Dec. 15, 2010

  • tolerance=condescention
    It implies "I'm in a superior position to ALLOW you to do as you want to do even though I don't like it"

    Respect is a better word, but so many people can't even see their way to tolerance, they'd see respect as forcing them to accept, because they still can't tell the difference.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 12:38 PM on Dec. 15, 2010

  • Sometimes you have to start with tolerance before you can get to respect, but I agree I like mutual respect better.


    Answer by RyansMom001 at 1:05 PM on Dec. 15, 2010

  • I agree.

    Answer by older at 9:46 AM on Dec. 15, 2010

  • There should be more respect but you can't force people to respect what and who they really do not.

    Answer by wildflowers25 at 9:51 AM on Dec. 15, 2010