Tolerance has a wider or more common meaning, respecting differences, which prevails healthy and positive communion. It signifies respect for beliefs and practices, which may differ from one’s own and willingness to try and understand why people think and feel differently. It means the capacity to treat such people with dignity and the ability to hold on to one’s own convictions while accepting the right of others to hold on to their own.
Tolerance is recognition of differences but not acquiescence. Tolerance helps to keep society together, even when it may be driven by conflicts. Conflicts can be resolved if there is a general agreement that can be dealt with in a peaceful and tolerant manner. In fact, democracy is hard, if not impossible to sustain, if people are not generally committed to the principle of tolerance.
A tolerant individual does not supress ideas he dislikes or disagrees with. By extension tolerant society gives free play to a number of oposing ideas and it extends right to all individuals. Tolerance accords the people freedom to speak, criticise and oppose.
At a certain point tolerance is a personal virtue and at another it would be an absolute prerequisite for peaceful co-existence. In tolerance, as the world is rapidly beginning to realise, is the path to war and disorder.However, no correlation can be drawn between being religious and being intolerant. Mahatma Gandhi stands as a good example of someone who was deeply religious and profoundly tolerant. Dogmatism and disregard for human rights such as freedom of expression have sometimes been a result of Leftist intolerance.
Looked at in this manner, tolerance is product of recognition that man has a tendency to be dogmatic. Tolerance is essential for success. In fact, the very survival of a nation which may have diversy in it’s cultural, social and relligious character in any parts of the world. The declaration of the principles of tolerance were signed by UNESCO long long back.
Fighting intolerance is a complex issue.
As an idea, tolerance often comes under attack from certain quarters. It is painted as a weak concept, a monk of false civility and – as chesterton put it – a sign of not believing passionately about any thing.
It tests our ability to stand by our convictions even as we allow others to adhere to their own.
FIGHTING INTOLERANCE IS A COMPLEX ISSUE. FOR, IT INVOLVES A NUMBER OF THINGS INCLUDING ENFORCING THE LAW, FOSTERING EDUCATION AND PROVOKING FREE ACCESS TO INFORMATION.