From the dictionary:
1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry. 4. the act or capacity of enduring; endurance.
Both of these definitions are important to me, for different reasons. I know that in the literature it tells me that although I can’t love everyone, I can take a kindly and tolerant view of everyone. I understand this to be the ideal I will strive for. And I understand it for both definitions. I can be (or try to be) fair, objective, and permissive, and I can endure people who I find to be difficult. I am much better on the endurance angle. Being fair, objective, and permissive is difficult for me, especially when people are intolerant. I can tolerate anything but intolerance!
Phillip C. commented a few posts back that not everyone will appreciate him as a gay man. I then find it extremely difficult or impossible to appreciate or accept them, with their intolerant attitude. This is a huge character defect of mine. I want to (and in some ways I do) write people off who will not “accept” homosexuality. I can’t be civil to people who seek to continue to deny me the right to marry, and so I don’t be anything with them. Tolerant, I am not.
I do, however, tolerate lots of other things, and I think I usually do pretty well. I’m not the road rage type and I tolerate the bad driving of all those other folks on the road. I work with people who can be extremely slow, or take a long time to understand something, or they can be very selfish, or sometimes even sneaky, and I do fairly well with most of it most of the time.
I don’t know about my endurance, but I do know that it’s come to my attention over the past few months that I should try to do better with enduring, and so tolerating, lots of things that make me uncomfortable or event things that hurt. The kids are out of touch for too long, and I don’t know if they’re OK. Worse, I may have good reason to fear they are not OK, but I have to make it through the not knowing. My mother or my dog or my cat declines in old age and bad health. The roads are icy and snowy and freezing cold for yet another day. My own body takes another step down the other side of that hill.
I understand on some level that all of these outward conditions are things I have to adjust to. That my serenity or happiness cannot be dependent on any of them. That on some cosmic level, all is well, all “IS.”
Tolerance is worth striving for.