Tolerance

This has to be one of the worst words in the English language for sheer arrogance of potential usage, and the most overused. It is used in a way that indicates a derogatory, patronising manner whilst making it sound as if you are completely open minded and into ‘equal opportunities’ or other such useless buzz words that are currently floating around in the ether of human usage.

Who asked for their lives to be commented on by others in this way?

The ever present (on my computer) and ever useful WordWeb defines the term tolerance in the following ways:

  1. The power or capacity of an organism to tolerate unfavourable environmental conditions.
  2. A disposition to allow freedom of choice and behaviour.
  3. The act of tolerating something.
  4. Willingness to recognise and respect the beliefs or practices of others.
  5. A permissible difference; allowing some freedom to move within limits.

This is supposed to be some form of positive word use? ‘I’ can tolerate someone else’s; religion, sexuality, moral ambiguity etc. Why is this made out to be a good thing?

I have a high pain threshold, a high tolerance if you will… should this word use also be linked to someone’s religious ‘choice’ if it should differ from my own? (Not that I have a religious affiliation, I am an Atheist… but the thought is there) It’s basically just a pseudo-polite way of saying; ‘I think very little of your choices because they aren’t mine.’ Or ‘I am ‘putting up’ with you because it makes me look good to do so.’ It’s a selfish word to use in conjunction with the topics it generally references.

I don’t appear to have this word in my own vocabulary… okay obviously it is in there, otherwise this whole mini-rant about it would be unable to occur, I mean that I don’t use it. I don’t like the meaning, the attitude behind it, the opinions inferred by using it and I most certainly don’t like it when used in reference to my own person. It makes me feel looked down upon, belittled and dismissed simply for being something ‘other’ than the person using the word. It is unnecessary and surely there are better alternatives, if an alternative is absolutely imperative.

“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.”

Voltaire (1694 – 1778), Essay on Tolerance


(Incidentally, I apologise for the en-masse usage of quotation marks, they seem to have run away from me some what.)

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About Nerdsbian

I am a nerd for ALL seasons. I am a genderqueer wlw Librarian who unsurprisingly likes reading...a lot But I love being outside too...sometimes even reading at the same time. Also animals, any and all of them. Never yet met one that didn't get on with me and vice versa. I do a couple of different voluntary jobs (animal charity related) and have recently completed my MA.
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