TOLERANCE IS NOT ENOUGH!
It seems that Black people in the United States are under siege from their fellow country-dwellers, including those sworn to serve and protect, simply because of the colour of their skin, with gender taken into consideration for those who don’t fit the cisgender male binary.
Islamic people across the world are feeling the necessity of apologising for the behaviours of people they have never met, never spoken with, whose beliefs are not their own and do not reflect even the slightest cursory glance at the Qu’ran. All so their presence will be tolerated.
Women are murdered because of their gender; transgender women at a higher rate than cisgender women for… no reason at all other than fear and hate and self-lack-of-awareness of others. Sexual violence is visited upon them, because of male entitlement and presumed desire for sex at least 95% of the waking day (my guesstimate of the assumption, I hasten to add, but the oft told “every seven seconds a man thinks of sex” came from somewhere).
Non-heterosexual presenting/living people find themselves in fear of being beaten simply because they love and lust in ways that are not aimed entirely at the opposite binary sex.
Violence, whether it be verbal, physical, state-sponsored or the well-spring of some sort of community group or ideology, is the response many receive to their perceived ‘difference’. Instantly memes and quotes pop up across social media and throughout society pleading for tolerance of such difference.
Not good enough, say I.
You tolerate a bad smell, if you can’t do anything about removing the source. You tolerate bad manners, if it would be impolite or impolitic to correct them. You tolerate bad service in a restaurant (especially if you are English, where such politeness is a congenital defect). You tolerate ignorance, if the person is incapable of developing a necessary level of knowledge.
You tolerate bad weather, for goodness sake!
What you do not do is tolerate the innate differences between people. That implies a wrongness about that which you do not like and cannot change, and is one step from actively discriminating against those differences. Tolerance means avoiding that which you do not like, cutting yourself off, forever maintaining the barriers because the difference is not what you like.
It’s not all about you.
Anyone with any form of privilege (which basically means anyone who is identified with and/or identifies as part of a group which benefits from the inculcated positive discrimination within societies) benefits from bigotry. It’s not a choice to benefit, it simply is. The only way to fight discrimination is to actively address it; to listen to the voices of the oppressed and follow their lead and to work to comprehend what exactly it is that they are saying. Men listen to women, cisgender people listen to transgender people, white people listen to BAME people (UK preferred term)/people of colour (USA preferred term), able-bodied people listen to disabled/differently-abled people, heterosexual people listen to those of the spectrum of sexuality outside that definition. Not only listen but actually make the effort to understand and address their own prejudices, which we ALL have, and live their lives every day in addressing this.
Tolerance is for the status quo. Tolerance is for maintaining the prejudices within social norms. Tolerance is for bigots, and for the record, bigotry is not difference of opinion, but an act of discrimination whether actively or passively expressed. Tolerance is always directed by the privileged towards the discriminated against. Really, it is those who suffer under such benevolent tolerated bigotry who are forced to truly tolerate their lot, for fear of reaction.
It’s fine to tolerate things which you cannot change which irk you, but not to tolerate people for their innate differences. That implies a change to those differences would be desirable. It’s incredible how quickly intolerance by the discriminated-against for the toleration of themselves by the privileged will turn that to active bigotry.
Accepting the differences and acknowledging they have NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU and have no effect on your lives, and not cutting yourself off from that difference, is key. Once acceptance is part of your vocabulary and everyday action, then the differences shrink and the idiocy of maintaining discrimination on the basis of those differences becomes unacceptable.
ACCEPTANCE, NOT TOLERANCE.
That is the way forward, and it is incumbent on those in privileged positions to recognise and act on that. Tolerance is a step on the path, but it is not the final destination.
Or stay privileged and keep fighting the existence of difference. Only tolerate that which is not yours to a certain point. That’s why we keep having wars, isn’t it?