Tolerance versus Acceptance

Would you rather be tolerated or accepted?  Interestingly enough this question came up twice in the past few days.  Both discussions were basically about our current religious and political climate.  While there are many who constantly talk about what a tolerant society we have, I argue that although they may be the case, what we should be striving for is to become a more accepting society.

If you tolerate something or someone, you are basically just putting up with thing or person. They may be on the brink of what you “can take”, but you allow them to exist because it is either not critical to get rid of them, inconvenient to do so, or something such as a law is constraining you. You don’t like whatever it is you tolerate, but you just let it be.

On the other hand, if you accept something you not only are putting up with it, but there is a degree of understanding and permission.  It I accept a you as an individual, not only am I tolerating you  but I am going beyond that. I am showing an acceptance of who you are and at least some sort of agreement to help you with whatever it is you trying to be. When I accept a that a good friend is gay or lesbian, I am not just tolerating that person, but I am making an active statement to understand them.

So, as we look at the presidential campaign and as we here the voices of tolerance, ask yourself, shouldn’t we be going beyond tolerance? Shouldn’t we be going beyond putting up with our friends and neighbors? Instead, I think we should accept those friends and neigbors. We should accept the gay and lesbian community. We should accept the people of different faiths and those of no faith at all.

And therefor I ask you once again, would you rather be tolerated or accepted?