I keep hearing people talk about ‘tolerating’ other cultures and ways of life as something we need to strive for. We need to ‘tolerate’ other people.
I really hate that word.
Tolerate, to me, feels like a position we are forced to take. In a world that is more globalised than ever before, we are also more polarised than I would ever be able to handle. And I think part of the reason is because we keep using useless words like ‘tolerate’ in the context of multiculturalism and all the minorities that are finally starting to become more visible and unapologetic.
The word makes me imagine a world where everyone hates everyone and we all just deal with each other for the sake of it. And when I read the comments section of news articles about ethnic minorities, we really are a ‘tolerant’ society – one that will smile to your face, eat your butter chicken while talking about how migrants are destroying the country. We’re a world that is either too scared or too lazy to take the time to understand one another.
Remember the online backlash towards introducing halal KFC in New Zealand? Wow. How fragile is your ego that 1% of the nation’s population talking about fried chicken scares you so much? I know the keyword in there is ‘online’ – people always say things online that they would never say to your face – but comments sections show me how unevolved we are.
KFC is disgusting by the way.
Anyway, I did a few Oxford dictionary searches of some words caused I’m well-read like that, and here are my findings and thoughts.
Tolerate (noun) – Allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one dislikes or disagrees with) without interference.
How is this a good thing? I do appreciate your non-interferance of my lifestyle that you dislike, but that is just not good enough to me. While I don’t need anyone’s approval to be myself, I also feel like I don’t want to exist in a space where people are forced to put up with me. That is how internalised racism continues to thrive. So I thought ‘acceptance’ was a better word?
Acceptance (noun) – The action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.
Who has the power and authority to consent to my existance? Do I really need to wait for your permission to be as I am and live as I want? But why? Why does my difference need to be consented to? What if we all embrace one another?
Embrace (noun) – Include or contain (something) as a constituent part.
I like this better. While I’m not sure who is including who here, I like that everyone is still present as a fundamental voice at the table.
Perhaps there are other words out there that will better define the type of world I would like to live in. But in the mean time I remain confused and annoyed at how tolerant the world is becoming.