The current poll asks about the quality you think is most important to teach children. In Enough Frivolity, I asked you which of those characteristics you would use to identify yourself to others and which one you felt best describes you. So far, the two qualities we have not covered are tolerance and respect, tonight’s Talk Tuesday topic.
A brief consultation with Merriam Webster about the following results, pertinent to this discussion:
1 : capacity to endure pain or hardship : endurance, fortitude, stamina
2 a : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own
b : the act of allowing something
1 a : to consider worthy of high regard : esteem
b : to refrain from interfering with <please respect their privacy>
2 : to have reference to : concern
Both tolerance and respect have a large similarity. They both connote allowing something, with which we need not identify, to exist without interference.
I am respectful.
When we identify ourselves as respectful, we often hold ourselves only to the definition of esteem. We exercise respect for authority, elders, government, even the environment.
Occasionally, we take the definition of concern. This respect is more for things: property lines, possessions of someone else, personal boundaries.
Much more rarely, do we adhere to the second part of the first definition: to refrain from interfering. While most of us will knowingly attempt to refrain from meddling in personal affairs, it is not something which we are met with great success.
For instance, we often feel a compulsion to provide unsolicited advice. Whether stemming from a socially blunted application of caring or from a superiority complex, we are inherently judging our audience or its actions as inferior.
I am tolerant.
The predominant social definition of tolerance is the second one. We consider ourselves tolerant when we do not actively pursue activities which homogenize.
The mere coexistence of differing populations without genocide is recognized as tolerance. The shallow recognition of the existence of other religions than the one we practice is considered tolerant.
Very rarely is the definition of endurance or fortitude applied as an identity trait associated with tolerance. We consider pain tolerance a physical attribute, but we fail to recognize emotional tolerance as an identity trait.
Tolerance is considered a passive quality in today’s society. Respect is demanded without being earned. The two have become mutually exclusive.
My challenge is this:
Tolerance and respect are so interdependent they cannot exist solely.”
In order to respect someone or something outside ourselves, we must tolerate it. Likewise, to tolerate someone or something outside ourselves, we must respect it.
To identify ourselves with tolerance and respect regarding others, we must be willing to identify differences without stereotyping, prejudice or judgment. Both require knowledge, compassion and kindness.
To identify tolerance and respect within ourselves, we must take on the lesser definitions. Our inner tolerance is the strength to change and forgive ourselves. Our inner respect is refraining from interfering in our own individuality.
Tonight, let’s discuss the ways we can respect our individuality while respecting how it differs from others and how we tolerate changing that individuality to grow emotionally.
You do not have to answer the questions, but they are a guideline for topics we can explore. Please do be respectful of others’ opinions. We are not discussing tolerating one another, yet we are exercising tolerance. We are discussing respect and tolerance of self.
How do you define your individuality?
I have often told you I am intolerant. I claim myself as such because I rarely allow, most specifically ignorance, as I strive to educate.
Have you tolerated change and forgiven yourself for the change?
Many people see changes in their individuality as a defining moment where they realize the way they were as insufficient or unacceptable. Self-forgiveness is necessary to remember the lesson, not the hurt.
How do you respect yourself while respecting how different you are from others?
In an effort to fit into society, we often try to mitigate differences between ourselves and others by either changing ourselves or attempting to convince others to change. Rarely do we compromise in this instance.
Here is your chance to Talk Back. Let’s get Talk Tuesday underway. The floor is yours.
Based on audience request, tonight’s post will go live at 1900 EDT (GMT-5) so it can be read in advance of our discussion. If you cannot stay until 2000, feel free to leave your contribution in the comments. We will be discussing this in real time from 2000 until we are finished!
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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