What is the Meaning of Tolerance in the Modern World?

What does tolerance mean, in the modern world? Well, first of all, tolerance means accepting that someone is different than you, and because everyone is unique in this world, it means accepting that everyone else on this planet is different.

If a neighbor hasn’t the same hobbies as you, the same tastes in food or in clothing, the same skin color, the same nationality, the same religion, the same language, the same political orientation, if he is from all this points of view, or any others, different than you, then you have to be tolerant with him.

Tolerance means respecting, accepting and appreciating the rich diversity of our world’s cultures. Human beings are naturally diverse in many ways – tolerance means accepting every reasonable way of being human.

           

When did the word “tolerance” made its way into human society? In medieval times, such thing didn’t exist, and if it did, it was very limited. Feudalism could not accept other ways of thinking: everyone had to bow before the monarch, listen to his rules and follow blindly the religious dogmas. But as technology advanced and people came closer and closer with each other, it became clear that medieval thinking could not survive.

Democracy sprang like a flower in a world dominated by the culture of war, where the individual’s rights were not important, a single human was only one of the Earth’s many other millions and, if he didn’t have a ruling position, no one cared about him. The democratic system brought along with it the government of fundamental freedoms, the principle of unalienable human rights and, of course, tolerance.

And so did humanity come into the modern world, with tolerance besides it, which is now more essential than ever before. A globalized world is an interdependent world. Because we all live on the same planet, drink the same water and breath the same air, we must also live in harmony with each other, and tolerance favorizes a culture of peace.

 

But even tolerance must have its limits. Its bounds are the universal human rights and the fundamental freedom – a man who crosses them cannot be tolerated. Someone who steals, kills, beats his children, violates someone’s liberty, dignity or integrity, or does anything else which is contrary to the human nature, then his acts shall not be tolerated.  

           

The modern world is very complicated. Every day, conflicts of cultural, religious, political or any other nature menace our society. Humans must understand that only together they can survive, and learn to tolerate the differences between individuals which had too many times thorned them apart.

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Note: This is my submission for the essay contest “The Meaning of Tolerance in the Modern World” (2012), organized by the Unites States Embassy in Bucharest (coordinating teacher: Mrs. Valentina Jianu Nina).

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