Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Apathy Or Tolerance

Is there a difference? Apathy is a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. Tolerance is the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with. So yes, there is a difference.

One can be apathetic to something and therefore tolerate it by default. A tolerant person has an opinion, perhaps even a strong one, but respects the right of someone else to hold another opinion.

There are things we will be apathetic about because they don't matter to us. However, if that is how we feel to just about everything, then we could be using it as a coping mechanism or a way to opt out of issues. Tolerance requires reasoning that leads to acceptance of difference. A tolerant person knows that freedom requires living with those who don't see things the way we do.

So should tolerance mean we accept every sort of behaviour? Of course not, Violence, cruelty and other hurtful actions shows the perpetrator has no respect for others. Tolerance demands respect, but not that we accept what is disrespectful to other people. A line has to be drawn on how far we should go. If one believes in God, then some sort of guidelines are part of worship. Non believers too should have levels of decency based on respect for others.

Being apathetic to make us feel tolerant only makes us wishy-washy, and it isn't the real thing. Definite opinions tempered by respect for others - and their rights - shows strength of character, especially when feeling comfortable with behaviour that is very different to ours.

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