I always write about the importance of tolerance and how it is important for any progressive and civilized society to be tolerant. I found that many people somehow believe that showing tolerance is a sign of weakness. Somehow there is a perception that being tolerant means being weak person or submissive society. I wonder from where they get this notion, actually tolerance or registering your protest via non violent way is not a easy thing. Gandhi himself said that option of non violence is only for strong people, weak people can not follow this path because it is very tough for them to control their anger and animal instincts. Same is true for tolerance, for being tolerant one requires lot of patience and strength. Any society or government should learn to tolerate dissent or different opinions than their own. It is very rare for any diverse group or society to agree completely on any issue, there will always be some difference of opinion or some opposition no matter what is the topic of discussion. This is where tolerance comes into the picture. I think every individual, group or society need to ask this question to themselves, are they willing to accept that there can be a difference of opinion or counter-view to their own view (or majority's view)? They may or may not agree with it but do they support the right of that person (or group) to express those views openly? If yes, then are they willing to protect other's right to disagree? Because in any tolerant society scope for disagreement is very important, if I am scared to express my views because I might get attacked for expressing them as they don't align with majority then it is for sure that I am not living in tolerant and civilized society. For me freedom of expression is important that is why I care about tolerance.
Actually many people think that being tolerant means accepting everything, keeping quite when wrong things happen around you or not getting angry at all. Some of these wrong perceptions are behind the thinking that being tolerant means being weak. The truth is that tolerant people are also very passionate about their views and their ideas but the only difference is the way they express those views and ideas. They can be very assertive about their opinions but they are not physically or verbally aggressive. They also get angry but the difference is what they do when they get angry. The way they express their anger is very different than intolerant people. Actually it is very natural to get angry if anyone see anything which is contrary to their own set of beliefs but what matters is what they do when they are angry. Any tolerant person doesn't abuse the person expressing different opinion than them, they don't mob and attack or kill that person just because he/she believes in some different ideology or belong to some other group. But they engage in dialogue or discussion and want to debate the issue rather than force it on others. Tolerance doesn't at all means that accept all and reject nothing, the only difference is in the way you reject it and it is a huge difference. This difference can result in peaceful protest vs riots, picketing vs mob attacks, so the point I want to make is that this difference is huge, it can be the question of life and death of some individual.
It takes tremendous courage to tolerate or encourage opposition to your own ideas, it requires legendary patience to listen to people who criticize you even without any substantial proof or logic. These things can only happen in very civilized, modern and progressive society which understands meaning of open debates and discussions. Ask yourself few questions to check if you are living in tolerant society or not, if not then please take some efforts to improve your own behavior first so that at least you take first steps towards making of tolerant society which you desire. There are very rich and so called developed places in world where there is little or no tolerance about so many things. Specially practice of any other religion or criticism of rulers or ruling party is not tolerated. I am sure many of us don't want to live in such society, so make sure that this important characteristic doesn't get lost among noise of power hungry politicians or fanatic religious organizations. Protect this quality as it is a lifeline of any civilization if it wants to progress intellectually.
Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.
[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]