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Why Tolerance Alone Will Never Build A Just Society

Why Tolerance Alone Will Never Build A Just Society

Why do we need tolerance? The glib answer is that it is necessary in a society where conflict, racism, sexism, and ageism make life miserable for many people.

Let us look first at what tolerance means. It means putting up with something that you do not agree with or are not comfortable with.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, tolerance is:

“The disposition to be patient with or indulgent to the opinions or practices of others; freedom from bigotry or undue severity in judging the conduct of others; forbearance.”

When we tolerate something like pain, noisy neighbors, insects, or awful weather, then those things are almost despised. Is that how we want to treat our human brothers and sisters too?

When people say they are tolerant, watch out — this is not the whole story!

“I learned that very often the most intolerant and narrow-minded people are the ones who congratulate themselves on their tolerance and open-mindedness.” — Christopher Hitchins

Tolerance is needed more than ever before

We all know that violence and persecution have resulted in a massive humanitarian problem, creating an unprecedented number of refugees. One in every 122 human beings on planet earth is now a refugee thanks to upheavals and wars in many countries throughout the Middle East and Africa. Again, tolerance is not enough, it must go deeper and be much more active, as Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General, has so rightly stated.

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“Our practice of tolerance must mean more than peaceful co-existence, crucial as that is. It must be an active understanding fostered through dialogue and positive engagement with others.” — Ban Ki-Moon.

This must be the answer as we witness the onslaught of intolerance, hatred, and violence against immigrants. Donald Trump exploits ignorance and fear to gain votes in his electoral campaign. He never uses the word “tolerance.” Tolerance can also mean that poor people should stay in their ghettos and not get too close to the rich!

Tolerance is not enough — we also need acceptance and mutual understanding.

Tolerance is not enough — it must include acceptance. It also means learning about and understanding other people who may be different in race, faith, or sexual orientation. All too often, under the guise of multiculturalism, we are merely saying that we will tolerate people who are different provided they pretend to be just like us.

“Our tolerance is part of what makes Britain Britain. So conform to it, or don’t come here.” — Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister (1997-2007)

Now, wouldn’t it have been much better if the British Prime Minister had urged us to celebrate the differences of others, co-operate, and collaborate with each other to build a better society?

Tolerance is not enough — we need to build an equal society

The world-famous philosopher Slavoj Zizek is well known for his controversial views on life and society. He has been nominated as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Journal, and the International Journal Of Zizek Studies is dedicated to his scholarly work and writing.

Zizek often points out that Martin Luther King never used the word tolerance.

 “For him (and he was right) it would have been an obscenity to say white people should learn to tolerate us more.” — Slavoj Zizek

There was no request for people to get along or be tolerant. The Civil Rights Movement was demanding economic equity. It was no accident King finished his speech with the words, “We’re here to cash a check.”

“Why are so many problems today perceived as problems of intolerance, rather than as problems of inequality, exploitation, or injustice? Why is the proposed remedy tolerance, rather than emancipation, political struggle, or even armed struggle?” — Slavoj Zizek, Living in the End Times

Understanding is not enough. Multiculturalism is not the easy solution either. No society has really solved how different cultures can co-exist and what rules they can share if this is to be a successful model. Mere tolerance is not enough; we have to build an emancipated society where equal rights are really practiced and respected. We can start by showing how we accept and love others in our everyday lives. As humans, we innately crave love.

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” — Mother Teresa

Featured photo credit: Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial — Washington (DC) March 2012/ Ron Cogswell via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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