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Tolerance vs. Acceptance

Tolerance vs. Acceptance

For this essay, I'm hopping up on my soapbox. I have an opinion.

There is an issue in the public eye about whether or not to teach "tolerance" in schools for social minorities like "gay" people. Oddly enough, the religious right camp is preaching intolerance, and the gay community is preaching tolerance. In my mind it's a lose-lose situation.

The crux of the matter is this: "tolerance" has an implied judgement built in. To "tolerate" someone or something defines that person or thing as "bad" or "wrong." When I say I "tolerate" your behavior, what I'm really saying is that I consider your behavior wrong, but in my magnanimity I'll put up with it. If you teach tolerance of homosexuals, you're basically saying that homosexuality is wrong.

For myself, I preach acceptance. If you read my essay on what it means to be gay, then you know that I view men being sexuality attracted to men, and women being sexually attracted to women as part of nature. It's normal. It's common. It's part of being human. Whether you are tolerant or intolerant, you carry a judgment. That is your choice, but I offer a third choice... acceptance. The world is my family. We all have something to contribute to the world. And in accepting the world the way it is, I do not worry about making people right or wrong. I don't divide people up into acceptable or unacceptable. I let the world be the way it is and treat everyone with the dignity and respect due every human being, every child of the universe.

That's my opinion... I'll hop down from my soapbox now.

--Essay by Mike Polek

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