Is Tolerance Good Enough?

Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to attend the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, CA. The experience was fascinating, and it was something that I have continued to reflect on for the remainder of the summer. However, as I have gone through my studies at Chapman and the Peace Fellowship, I have started to question, “Is tolerance good enough?”
My first day at Chapman University I was asked the question of “What is peace?” I described peace as people being tolerant and coexisting together despite their differences. At that time my professor told me that I was wrong, and that tolerance wasn’t good enough, but it has taken me a few years to grasp her meaning.
In a world of global media we hear about genocide, nuclear Armageddon, armed violence, and suicide bombers. Often we may hear pleas about the need for tolerance in our diverse world. I will agree that tolerance is a good first step, but it should not be the end goal.
The dictionary defines tolerance as, “enduring something unpleasant with forbearance.” By tolerating we are permitting something unfortunate to happen, despite that we may not like it. I may use the term tolerance by saying, “I can tolerate having onions on my hamburgers.” I know this is not what people mean when we send out pleas for tolerance, but we must look beyond tolerance to the next step. Often when talking about toleration of someone we mean putting up with someone we may not agree with. However, toleration does not extend to accepting others for who they are and full-heartedly embracing them. This is not an easy task, but being Christian isn’t about living in your comfort zone.
Today I issue a challenge to all of you, and it is not an easy one. It is often easier for us to separate the world into an “us” and a “them.” Tolerance is a good first step, but I challenge all of you to look beyond and ask yourself, “Is tolerance good enough?” Last year one of my professors told me, “You can’t just talk about how you want to change the world. You must start by living into your vision of the how you want the world to look.” I challenge each of you to live into the vision of the world you want to see fifty years from now. It may not be easy, but by everyone making changes in their lives to make the world a better place. We have the power to start a ripple effect and truly change the world.

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