Article Title the Importance of Tolerance as a Social value

Tolerance is the key in maintaining social relations of harmony and peace, by respecting differences in people, cultures, lifestyles and religions. Tolerance is a virtue of character as well as a learned behavior. Practicing tolerance implies neither disapproval nor acceptance. Tolerance is to “live and let live”. Tolerance is a fundamental principle of liberal democratic creed.

As of the last U.S. Census in 2010, there are no longer “minority groups” within this country. Former minorities now make up a significant portion of the U.S. population. Tolerance is the one virtue of our characters that allows us to live in a liberal and pluralistic society. Tolerance requires citizens to uphold the rights of groups, even those they find objectionable to be able to participate fully in political, social and economic life. Today’s society is a blend of many races, different religions, varied cultures, different sexual orientations, and a wide variety of customs and beliefs. This is now the norm in schools, places of employment, neighborhoods, in businesses, and elsewhere in our everyday lives. We live in a new world.

Intolerance breeds separation, misunderstanding and hostility between groups. Intolerance in social values leads to hate groups, hate crimes, a rise in violence, increases in suicides, sexual harassment, bullying in schools, problems in jobs and general discordance. We need to look into the crimes of our fathers, into the gas chambers of Auschwitz, and the slave quarters of the U.S. and make the promise of “never again”.

In the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee presents the tragic consequences of social intolerance in others, as well as in our own lives. In present day, Ty Clementi, an 18 year old freshman at Rutgers University, committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge, after his roommate posted a video of Clementi engaged in a gay sexual encounter. There has been a wave of suicides of gay children sweeping across this country. In September, 2012, there was a hate-crime slashing in a McDonalds in Manhattan. Raw pork was scattered in a Staten Island park before Muslims gathered for the end of Ramadan in August, 2012. Two teenagers confessed to the firebombing of two synagogues in New Jersey in January, 2012. And the list continues.

Tolerance is learned through confronting prejudices head-on through first recognizing and accepting prejudices. Then through education, travel, visiting temples, churches, mosques, attending cultural events and public ceremonies, and befriending a person from a different culture is how people defeat prejudices and learn tolerance. Intolerance and prejudices are signs of ignorance. Ignorance is not stupidity. Ignorance is not having had the opportunity to be exposed to education to overcome intolerances. Stereotyping must be overcome and being non-judgmental must be practiced. The “Golden Rule” for tolerance of cultural diversity is, “Do not treat people as YOU wish to be treated. Treat people as THEY wish to be treated.”

We must also practice tolerance for HIV and AIDS victims, people with mental illnesses, homeless people and people suffering from addictions. These people are the “outcasts” of our society. Volunteering to work in a soup kitchen does not absolve you of intolerance.

Individuals should focus on practicing tolerance in their daily lives. Parents must not influence their children with their own prejudices; they should teach their children tolerance. The media should use positive images that promote cultural sensitivity and understanding. Educators must promote tolerance and peaceful co-existence. Schools must embrace globalism to enhance social harmony and the acceptance of diversity through the use of global communication, using information technologies, teaching the need for flexibility, and teaching traditional values, customs and religions by global trends. Governments should aim to institutionalize policies of tolerance. Show respect for the essential humanity in every person. Become part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. Use your integrity, morals, and empathy in learning and practicing tolerance. The importance of tolerance as a social value cannot be understated for living in a harmonious society. We can either come together or live in discordance and strife.