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Articles » Tolerance


Browsing through heaps of daily newspapers and periodicals I feel the word ‘tolerance’ seems to have only one attachment; one context, – religion. It could be thought from that other extreme as well and can be said that religion is to be tolerant.

This seriously bothers me. I don’t mean to say tolerance shouldn’t be a part of religious preaching/ practice or religion cannot be expressed through the virtue of tolerance. No. I don’t mean to say that at all. What bothers me is that as progressive race we have reached a point in time where all other denotations and connotations of these two terms have started to fade out.

I just wish not to add one more article to that heap and would like to explore into the concept of tolerance starting from periphery and moving towards centre.

Other Contexts: describes, “Toleration and tolerance are terms used insocial, cultural and religious contexts to describe attitudes and practices that prohibit discrimination against those practices or group memberships that may be disapproved of by those in the majority.”

The principle of toleration is controversial. Even if we skip philosophical approaches and think in terms of practice of the concept in routine life, we can easily see the need to assess the term with discrimination. Toleration, generally, is born out of two sources:

  Acceptance of different views or
  Ability to remain unaffected

If it’s through acceptance, it is more of a kind of cultivated understanding for the views, behaviours and practices that is different from those one submits to. However, if it’s the ability to remain unaffected then there are two chances:

1. ..either one has been so much suppressed or hit by the opposite view that s/he has turned insensitive towards the entire issue.

2. ...or fear of confrontation has him/her succumb to non-reaction giving rise to inaction which never benefits any society.

This insensitivity can assume any name or any identity. For instance in the sphere of religion often it is posed as secularism. The concept of secularism is one that is highly ill-understood and even highly ill-practiced. Such politically motivated Secularism means absolute rejection of religion to many and this, in turn, results into moral degeneration in influenced intellectuals.

In personal lives of people tolerance, which is not through acceptance, brings about bitterness and hatefulness. We must realise that as children we are not born hateful. These evils are learned through the marks we receive in form of experiences accumulated by our interaction with the world around. It is more of a question of NURTURE than of NATURE. If today’s children are to have any chance of living harmoniously in this multiethnic/ multi-religious world, it is critical that adults nurture it.

Seven Strategies to Inspire Tolerance in Gen-Now:

In her book Building Moral Intelligence author Dr. Michele Borba suggests seven strategies that can be used by teachers and parents to help curtail bigotry. It does, at the same time, influences young generation to treat others with respect and understanding.

1. Confront your own prejudices:The first step to nurturing tolerance is to examine your own prejudices and reflect on how you might be projecting those ideas. Chances are that you are communicating those attitudes unintentionally to children. Do make a conscious attempt to temper them so they aren’t passed on to your students

2. Commit to a tolerant, respectful environment Culture does matter. So if you really want students to respect diversity, you must adopt a conviction to emphasize respect and tolerance. Once students know your expectations, they will be more likely to embrace your principles.

3. Refuse to allow discriminatory comments. When you hear prejudicial comments, verbalize your displeasure. How you respond sends a clear message to the child about your values: “That's disrespectful and I won’t allow such things to be said in my house,” or "That's a biased comment, and I don't want to hear it." Students need to hear your discomfort so that they know you really walk your talk. It also models a response youth should imitate if prejudicial comments are made in their presence.

4. Embrace diversity. From a young age, expose students to positive images including music, literature, videos, public role models, and examples from the media that represent a variety of ethnic groups. Ignorance fuels prejudice so expose students to different races, religions, cultures, genders, abilities, and beliefs.

5. Emphasize similarities. Encourage children to look for what he has in common with others instead of how he is different. Any time you hear a student point out how she is different from someone, you might say. “There are lots of ways you are different from other people. Now let’s try to think of ways you are the same.” Help her see how similarities outweigh differences.

6. Counter discriminatory beliefs. When you hear a student make a prejudicial comment, listen to find out why he feels the way he does. Then gently challenge his views and point out why they are incorrect. For example if a student says, “Homeless people should get jobs and sleep in their own houses.” You might counter: “There are many reasons homeless people don’t work or have houses. They may be ill or can’t find jobs. Houses cost money, and not everyone can pay for one.”

7. Live your life as an example of tolerance. The best way for any child to learn tolerance is for him to watch and listen to your daily example. So ask yourself each day one critical question: “If my students had only my behaviour to copy, would he be witnessing an example of what I want him to emulate?” Make sure you are walking your talk.

Of course the best way to teach children tolerance is not through our lectures but through our example. So be a living textbook of tolerance for your students and for all other children. Hatred and intolerance can be learned, but so too can sensitivity, understanding, empathy, and tolerance. Although it's certainly never too late to begin, the sooner we start, the better the chance we have of preventing insidious, intolerant attitudes from taking hold. There has never been a time when it is most important for educators to do so than now...

[P. S.    There is a deliberate first person narration in the beginning to give it a personal tone so that the views in the article remains subscribed to the writer. If you feel the need, this can be replaced by first person plural ‘we’ but that doesn’t make sense as no two persons can have intimately similar thoughts and analogous methods to arrive at common opinion on sensitive issue like this.]

Believe in life

What we are today is result of our own past actions; Whatever we wish to be in future depends on our present actions; Decide how you have to act now.

There is a deliberate first person narration in the beginning to give it a personal tone so that the views in the article remains subscribed to the writer. If you feel the need, this can be replaced by first person plural ‘we’ but that doesn’t make sense as no two persons can have intimately similar thoughts and analogous methods to arrive at common opinion on sensitive issue like this.

We are responsible for what we are, whatever we wish ourselves to be. We have the power to make ourselves.

The most difficult phase of life is not when no one understands you; it is when you don't understand yourself.

Whatever you give to life, it gives you back. Do not hate anybody. The hatred which comes out from you will someday comeback to you. Love others. And Love will comeback to you.

For everything you have missed, you have gained something else;

And for everything you gain, you lose something else. It is about your outlook towards life. You can either regret or rejoice.

Arrow goes forward only after pulling in to backward. Bullet goes forward only after pressing the trigger backward.

Every human being will get happy only after facing the difficulties in their life path...

So do not afraid to face your difficulties. They will push you forward.

Remember you are born to live.

Don't live because you are born!

Don't go the way life takes you...

Take life the way you go !!!


REFERENCES Dorba, Michele, Building Moral Intelligence, Jossey-Bass Publications


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