By Molly Brooke
“Acceptance is respect, not tolerance.”
This is a statement made in a speech by Jeremy Corbyn and one I feel passionately about. This is because I feel many people mistake their tolerance not only for acceptance but also respect, the two things are different.
Acceptance is what occurs when you recognise a person, you look at them completely and feel respectful of them. You may not agree with them, you may not like them but you respect them, for who and what they are. A human being, with emotions, with feelings, with beliefs and with family. It can be the same with situations and if a person or situation is disagreeable, you can still show respect while doing something about it.
Just because you feel someone is in the wrong does not mean you shouldn’t respect them. Perhaps, in fact, it is more important than ever to respect someone you have differences with, because you may find yourself more able to place your feet in their shoes and begin to see something valuable in their point of view. It may increase your conviction that they hold problematic views but perhaps respectful discourse could also change the other person’s viewpoint. Talking respectfully may not change your core feeling but it may mean you understand better how an issue came to be.
Tolerance, however, is knowing you dislike something and allowing it to happen but not interacting with it. People and situations do not need to be tolerated. Tolerance is an invented concept to keep us from fighting for justice and rights. For example; Tolerating the closure of libraries because budgets are being slashed, not enough people use them to make them worth running, so be a little more tolerant and understanding of the situation, please. However, what this tolerance allows is the people at the top who don’t care about anyone worse off than them to be able to cut budgets repeatedly, whilst increasing their salaries or giving tax breaks to themselves and their rich friends.
Yet what scares them is you the public, their voters, especially if you become aware of what they are doing and if you have access to free sources of knowledge and computers like libraries this might be more likely to encourage critical thought. Therefore they want to get rid of those sources while brainwashing you into thinking such cutbacks are necessary and using the word tolerance to make you think you need to accept it because is that not what tolerance is?
No. Tolerance is becoming docile to a disagreeable situation. It is resignation in the belief that what you are agreeing to is inevitable and you can do nothing about it. Tolerance is a tool used by the elite few to keep the many down, meek and submissive.
If you feel you must be tolerant, you do not feel so much right to rebel against what you see as wrong, whether it is to do with a social situation or governing one. Because if you did you wouldn’t be being tolerant. Whereas if you respect a situation you still feel able, if not abler, to question and challenge the matter if it is disagreeable. You understand it and accept it is what it currently is, but that does not mean it must always be so.
You realise you have the power to make change occur because mutual respect puts you on equal footing and while respect from only your side may not be ideal it still means you can see from their viewpoint as well as your own whilst they see only theirs.
Respect, not tolerance, is what we need to move us forward. Mutual respect of one another, of our views, creed disability or ability and colour but just as importantly the respect of those we must challenge and fight against, for whatever they have done, whoever they may be, at the very core they are still the same as us. Human beings, driven by emotions, capable of feelings and someone’s loved one. Every person in the world has someone, somewhere, who loves them and that they love too.
Please, as we enter such a crucial phase in our fight, wrap tight and keep safe the knowledge that not only are you loved and love another just as dearly but so is your
opponent. We are, at the very core, all the same.
I don’t like the word tolerance. I don’t tolerate somebody. I respect somebody, I work with somebody, I love somebody. I don’t like the idea I’ve got to tolerate them because they’re a different faith. No, respect is a much better way.