Pass the Tolerance, Please

by  Jane Perdue  |  Leadership Development

We joined the conversation just as Matt was defending the right to be quirky and go against the mainstream. He was calm, gracious, and articulate—speaking his mind without being in anyone’s face, urging respect for different values and opinions.

His message of tolerance went unheeded. As the threads of conversation began anew, anyone who disagreed with the majority opinion was belittled and harshly criticized.

Someone recently asked me what one thing I would change about the world if I could. I responded I would sprinkle some pixie dust on everyone to imbue them with broad-mindedness:  a kind, authentic, and generous appreciation for the differences of others. There’d be no pressure to agree with the opposing point of view—simply acceptance without judgment, indifference, or condescension of the right to think, feel, and act divergently from the norm.

Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself. ~Robert Green Ingersoll

I think I’d need a lot of pixie dust as we’re inclined to perceive that which is different from us as a threat to be vanquished or something to be feared. But, instead of settling for what we know or what leaves us comfortable, what would happen if we purposefully embraced that fear and used it as a catalyst to expand our horizons?

We expect Baskin Robbins to serve up at least 31 flavors. So why do we want a single flavor—ours—when it comes to values and beliefs?

It took Magellan’s crew three years to circumnavigate the world. Today a message can be shared globally in a matter of minutes—connecting us to this impressive list of differences from MindTools:  race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, philosophy, values, physical attributes, age, viewpoints, family obligations, background, dress, work practices, political beliefs, attitude, education, and class. Diversity is here to stay.

You will need to look instead for the meaningful similarities you share with others that will help you overlook unessential differences. ~Shelley Reciniello

So the next time the temptation arises to bash someone who thinks, feels, or acts differently, we should try hitting the personal pause button long enough to intentionally dance with some purposeful discomfort.

It might be the beginning of an intriguing journey of growth.


Image source before quote:  Morguefile



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About The Author

Articles By jane-perdue
Jane is a leadership futurist and well-mannered maverick who challenges stereotypes, sacred cows, gender bias & how we think about power. She loves chocolate, TED, writing, kindness, paradox and shoes.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Ellen Stuart  |  10 Jul 2014  |  Reply

I also believe that people lacks of tolerance. It’s easier to agree with the mass and ignore the one who thinks differently. I like the article!

Jane Perdue  |  15 Jul 2014  |  Reply

Kinds for your kind words, Ellen!

Nona Gormley  |  11 Jul 2014  |  Reply

Love the phrase, “intentionally dance with some purposeful discomfort.”

Jane Perdue  |  15 Jul 2014  |  Reply

So glad you like my phrase, Nona! Thanks for sharing!

JoAnne Simson  |  14 Jul 2014  |  Reply

Jane, this is a terrific blog post! I like the Ingersoll post; he was a great social commentator of the nineteenth century, now largely ignored. I’m hoping he’s making a come-back. Did you see the recent book on him, “The Great Agnostic,” about his contributions to many social reform movements in this country?

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