Why Tolerance Isn’t Enough

I remember taking a course in college about race in the media.  It was during that class that I learned the true meaning of the word tolerance.  Of course I’d heard the word before, but it wasn’t a word I used frequently and I’d always assumed there was a positive connotation behind it.  But David Womack, the Dean of Students, my favorite professor, and an incredibly strong, confident black man, put it in a different context for me.  He said to tolerate someone means to ‘put up’ with them and then he asked if ‘putting up’ with someone was really enough?

Over the past several weeks, racial injustice has become a primary topic of conversation and I’ve started to see/hear the term tolerance again. It makes my skin crawl.

Rather than tolerating anyone, no matter the color of their skin, who they pray to, who they love, or what they believe, learn something about that person.  Ask them questions, understand where they’re coming from, and accept their educated view point as absolutely valid, even if your educated view point is completely different.  It’s their truth.  It doesn’t mean you have to agree with their truth, but you can accept it for what it is – theirs.  Without understanding that and accepting that, we lose an opportunity for unbelievable growth.

At my children’s school, they end each morning’s announcement by shouting:

Be Safe. Be Kind. Be Responsible.

Show your Cougar pride.

I feel like the perfect ending to this article, for you to consider each and every day, can be summed up similarly with:

Be Safe. Be Kind. Be Responsible.

Accept those around you for who they are – pride will surely follow.


Beth Bangtson, HR Manager