“The highest result of education is tolerance.” - Helen Keller
On this planet we are blessed with a diversity that has ensured the survival of life in one form or another for millennia upon millennia. It is this diversity that allows evolution and survival. It is this diversity that ensures adaptation to adverse environments. There is no surer way to die out as a species than to be uniform and unchangeable. Rigidity and inflexibility, in a biological sense, will sooner or later cause extinction.
Human beings have managed over the ages of life on planet earth to reach a position of domination over all of the other life forms, such that the fate of all other species on this planet depends on our whims and fancies, our activities and behaviour. We pride ourselves on being rational, thinking creatures and yet we destroy our planet systematically, wipe out thousands of species of living things each year. As if that weren’t enough, internecine hostility within our own species, threatens humanity itself on many fronts.
Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance is harmony in difference. We view tolerance as a way of thinking and feeling (most importantly though, of acting) that gives us peace in our individuality, respect for those unlike us, the wisdom to discern humane values and the courage to act upon them. An adoption of tolerance by a diverse community equips its members with skills necessary to live together peacefully.
Ethnic conflicts, human rights violations, intolerance, nationalism and racism are, together with low environmental awareness, main threats to stability of the present world. Globalisation and growing multiculturalism in nation states bring such issues to the attention of many policy makers as well as impacting on the life of ordinary people. Teachers may play a very progressive role in the process of combating intolerance and racism and can articulate the bottom-up policies for social change. Individuals and community groups can foster an attitude of tolerance – tolerance depends on all of us for its active implementation.
tolerance |ˈtäl(ə)rəns| noun
1 the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with : the tolerance of corruption | an advocate of religious tolerance.
• the capacity to endure continued subjection to something, esp. a drug, transplant, antigen, or environmental conditions, without adverse reaction : the desert camel shows the greatest tolerance to dehydration | species were grouped according to pollution tolerance | various species of diatoms display different tolerances to acid.
• diminution in the body's response to a drug after continued use.
2 an allowable amount of variation of a specified quantity, esp. in the dimensions of a machine or part : 250 parts in his cars were made to tolerances of one thousandth of an inch.
ORIGIN late Middle English (denoting the action of bearing hardship, or the ability to bear pain and hardship): via Old French from Latin tolerantia, from tolerare.