Saturday, December 1, 2012

Vote for Acceptance Over Tolerance

Today, December 1st,  marks the first day of Tolerance Week. I've thought long and hard about the word Tolerance and I've come to the conclusion that I personally do not care for it – at least not when it comes to people. When used as a term in science and research it's totally acceptable.

And that is when I realized that the word, Acceptance, was one that I could put my energy into and back wholeheartedly. Accepting is appealing, easy, without ego. Tolerance is about taking an exaggerated sigh and saying, "Okay - if I have to." It is about being permissive of others and enduring others' behaviors; about not allowing what is, but what you feel you have to do. It is filled with insincerity. It's neither real nor genuine. It's biting the bullet and not embracing the soul.

"Acceptance is having the faith, despite the circumstances, that all is well."  Having faith is essential, whereas an attitude of tolerance withholds the value of faith. It promulgates the belief that we are at the helm, and this just isn't so. We are in control of ourselves, using our freedoms of choice – no more and no less.

If we subscribe to the belief that God is love and has openly declared we are all one and in his own image, then we might have to take a second look at tolerance and its negative message. To tolerate is to say we have the right and the task of bearing others. This is not of love nor of God. This is man-made and cannot hold up as lovingly as acceptance. Acceptance is inclusive.

"There's so much grace in acceptance. It's not an easy concept, but if you embrace it, you'll find more peace than you ever imagined."

Imagine if this week of tolerance became the week of acceptance. Roget's suggests the word, adopt, as a suitable synonym for the word accept. Think of a mother's and father's love of an adopted child. Though they are not the biological parents of this being, they have accepted   adopted   this child with all of their heart and soul. The concept of acceptance bringing about peace makes sense. Tolerance, on the other hand, connotes open-mindedness. A parent on the path of adoption is not being open-minded, they are about and of love.

"I define comfort as self-acceptance. When we finally learn that self-care begins and ends with ourselves, we no longer demand sustenance and happiness from others."

The author of this quote, Jennifer Louden, has given us an insightful glance of acceptance and how it starts with ourselves. We cannot accept others if we do not first accept who we are. We cannot change others but we can begin by accepting ourselves, which brings about positive change.

When Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world" truer words were never spoken.  To tolerate is to shrug and say, "Okay, if I must." To accept is to breathe deeply and say, "I love without boundary."

There are those who will say it's simply a matter of semantics. I say a week of Acceptance is a week of honesty, comfort, graciousness, faith and love. What do you say?