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#tolerancemeans humanity

Updated: Apr 8

Eunice Cho, Undergraduate, University of Illinois Chicago

To the politically unengaged, discourse is something to be avoided at all costs. The presidential debates run every four years, for example, and anyone with a certain innocence puts it on the television, watches it, and understands quickly to never put it on again. Upon witnessing the premier politicians of our nation resort to logical fallacies and insults in a last-ditch beg for votes, it is easy to understand why the typical American keeps their head down and avoids protests, rallies, and even ballots. The debates, and similar examples on mainstream media channels, constitute an embarrassing refutation to the thesis of American democracy: discourse promotes functional government. It seems as if discourse, rather than create solutions, begets hatred.

Eunice Cho, Undergraduate, University of Illinois Chicago

At the macro level, politics is devoid of tolerance. Politicians prioritize approval by their constituency, personal reputation, and profit over any acts of tolerance that would be seen as betrayal of their political party, whose policies they express indefinite support for. At the micro level, however, discourse is possible if tolerance is practiced actively.

Tolerance is the practice of placing a person in the context of individual ideals and intentions. A person’s political identity is derived from their upbringing, community, religious and/or cultural identity, so on and so forth. It is entirely intentional on behalf of the greater players in politics – those with power and money, in other words – that we are told to view one another as somehow less than we are. For example, conservative pundits like to construe liberals as mindless “sheep,” and likewise, liberal pundits conclude that conservatives are uneducated. The subscription to such a mindset allows one to be easily controlled by their hatred.

The reality is that politics is not as simple as, one idea is more intellectually developed as another. The typical American votes for the safety, well-being, and prosperity of themselves and their family.

Tolerance requires one to come to the uncomfortable conclusion that most of us share common intentions, and have come to our respective political ideals logically rather than randomly.

It is important to note, however, that the practice of tolerance in discourse, although valuable, is not infinitely so. For one, the practice of hatred is a literal exit from conversation. When a particular belief, rhetoric, or policy is inherently opposed to the existence of a person on the basis of identity, discourse is not possible, as the act of hatred is itself the nuclear option. It is quite easy to proclaim the rejection of hate. In this political climate, institutions of all kinds like to publicize that their practices are sensitive to every minority under the sun. In practice, however, it is another thing entirely to tolerate, to consciously view one another as human and enact practices to ensure common well-being. It is uncomfortable, and difficult, yet necessary.

At the end of the day, it comes down to humanity. Tolerance is the understanding that we are all human.

In order to avoid the political reality promoted on television, and to ensure liberty and justice for all, we must practice tolerance.


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