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#tolerancemeans that we have brave spaces

Updated: Apr 8

Nash Anderson, Graduate, St. Mary's College of California

To me tolerance is a mindset and a lifestyle. The question is how do we embody tolerance? I believe it comes down to a simple yet difficult action; having open dialog - a conversation where individuals open their mind and heart to the world around them. Conversations can easily be clouded with biases, values, and ignorance. These divisions lead to individuals and groups not understanding others, not listening, or being excluded which perpetuate injustices around the globe for many communities. However, listening and learning from the world requires guiding principles in fostering these essential connections. I found the most effective standards, known as Brave Space, while working at the Saint Mary’s College of California Intercultural Center (IC) on several community events. 

Nash Anderson, Graduate, St. Mary's College of California  Nash Anderson, Graduate, St. Mary's College of California

The first principle is Controversy with Civility. This phrase indicates there are numerous diverse perspectives on a single subject, many of which hold some value or validity. Even though individuals or groups may not share the same perspective, everyone tries understanding why these differences, similarities, and intersections exist. The second principle is Owning your Intention and Your Impact. What a person says or does has an impact on the world they may not have intended. The important thing is owning the intention and impact while learning from it, decreasing the chance of repeating the same divide in the future. Third is Challenge by Choice, referring to how all people participate in discussions and events differently, but it is important for everyone to get out of their comfort zones so that many voices can be heard. If someone is usually quiet, they should speak more often; if a person talks most of the time in a conversation, they should take a step back and listen more. These personal participation regulations allow potentially unheard ideas to have time in the space. Fourth is No Attacks, where people should not attack a person or group over an action or statement, but rather question and unpack it until understanding and removal of hate are achieved. Lastly Respect is an essential concept for carrying out the previous principles in conversation and interaction.

Polarization is caused by people clutching opposing viewpoints without listening to or understanding other perspectives, but Brave Space overcomes this obstacle. I worked with the IC and diversity groups on numerous events and initiatives to improve our society with these guiding principles. Whether it was an information session on Critical Race Theory or a potluck with food from numerous cultural communities, a world where all voices are heard in a sincere symphony of tolerance is possible. My mission is helping and learning from communities facing discrimination based on ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and more. This desire to protect human rights comes from economic and political microaggressions for years and is propelled by advice from my mother: “Have courage and be kind.” It takes courage to leap into action against injustices and kindness for listening and working with others. We should not be talking at each other; we should be talking with each other. #ToleranceMeansWeHaveBraveSpaces


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