Tolerance vs. acceptance

By The Beacon | October 31, 2007 9:00pm

By Julius Calasicas

Tolerance is not acceptance and the differences between the two can lead to an evil as discriminatory as intolerance. What I find to be most troublesome about the act of tolerating is that people who can tolerate a minority group may not see themselves as biased or prejudiced because they do not exhibit intolerance.

The tolerating individuals have the capability to coexist with a minority group, but do they accept the differences the minority incorporates or are they seen as abnormal members of the status quo where dealing with them is more of a beneficial chore rather than a learning experience?

Is the dark male student raised in Sudan, whose mannerisms differ when emotion arises, welcomed to the majority's ideology of normal?

Are the feminist lesbian's leg hair tolerated because non-feminists understand that shaving legs is part of externally assigned gender roles or do the non-feminists just ignore the stubby limbs?

Is the language of lower-class inner-city residents imitated by the suburban populace because there is an idolization of "street cred" or a genuine empathy for poor living conditions?

These are the questions I ask when toleration but not acceptance is displayed among the so-called progressive types.

Tolerance does not inherently appear with understanding or open-mindedness. I can tolerate some insects in my house like spiders and moths, but when I encounter ants and flies I feel like I must clear my life from these bugs and live cleaner.

There are levels of tolerance that any person can arbitrarily assign for their beliefs when it comes to tolerating people or situations. An evil can arise from these levels. Take for example the homosexual population. A sexual minority can be tolerated in the workplace, respected by his peers and loved by his friends, but when the sexual majority of heterosexuals see this person engaging in intimacy, say holding hands with another male, the toleration of gayness can turn into disgust quite easily.

Because of the consistent toleration of this sexual minority's status, the majority around him may not display discomfort with his action. Internally, however, the majority may secretly abhor their friend's behavior. What makes this any different from a homophobe's ability to keep his mouth shut?

If the homosexual minority is accepted, then his behavior should be accepted as well. The homosexual intimacy is no more public or different from heterosexual intimacy other than the fact that the sexes of the two persons involved are the same, but if toleration does extend to this level then acceptance, to me, should.

When it comes to policy and legislature, tolerance can accompany any ideology. Politicians can turn discomfort into law by wording their beliefs to sound like a tolerant and reasonable form of value. The president doesn't hate gays and lesbians; he just believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

The value of this ideology does not accept a civil homosexual marriage but the politician can make it sound like tolerating the queers is still present and a good thing in general.

In reality, gays and straights can be taxed as equals but when it comes to the benefits of a loving union, well I'm sorry Mr. San Francisco. This country isn't ready for that kind of social change.

To those who would disagree with my argument on tolerance, I ask, would you want to be tolerated in a foreign land or accepted as an equal? The very mannerisms we learn are ingrained in our physiology. Simple body languages show our upbringing. A Chinese-American can be distinguishable in China but will this American be tolerated until his behavior is deemed wrong or will the government embrace his individuality?

Julius Calasicas is a staff writer for ?The Beacon