All aspects of social justice require open-mindedness, acceptance of diversity, respect of the opinions of others as well as the humility to know that our perspective may differ from other people’s – and that it is okay.
The relative ease with which we move around the globe means we are likely to experience many cultures, traditions, customs and beliefs. All of these add a richness to our lives and simultaneously expose our prejudices and perceptions.
Most of us will feel we’re pretty good at putting up with things we don’t agree with, particularly when we’re not immediately affected by it. Tolerance is the ability to put up with something we don’t agree with or dislike, such as behaviours or opinions: it is enduring something about which we feel uncomfortable. Yet tolerance in the context of community welfare means we need to lift our heads from those very prejudices because like intolerance, prejudice perpetuates discrimination and stigma.
Tolerance is a virtue that allows us to keep our hands, and opinions, away from things we perceive as ‘wrong’ or don’t fit the norm. In community welfare work tolerance requires a degree of detachment from one’s own values and being able to look at the broader implications of how we can work towards a more fair and equitable world for everyone.
Sometimes there is a tension between what I am able to accept/tolerate in the behaviours of those I work with and the behaviours I won’t accept/tolerate in others. My justification is that when someone knows they’re behaving inappropriately they do not deserve tolerance, tolerance is reserved for those who do not know better or have been treated in ways that cause them to behave inappropriately.
How about you? Are there things you’ll tolerate in some people that you won’t in others? Why?