Tolerance doesn’t mean endorsement

photo of the writer of this opinion Joshua Bowling
Joshua Bowling
Mesa Legend

College is supposed to be the place where we learn to embrace tolerance, right? Tolerance is great. When I first started college, I was immediately thrust into a new world. A new world where people were older than me, younger than me, hailed from all sorts of different upbringings, and partook in an incredibly vast array of pastimes. There were myriads of religions, intellectuals, engineers, musicians, and anything else imaginable.

To some, this can be unsettling; it’s almost a sort of culture shock. We grow up in such a homeostasis that when we are thrust into a completely different society, we can clam up.  Falling into such a foreign climate makes it hard to understand or tolerate other people. Everyone has a different background, which causes everyone to make different decisions in life.  Comprehending and experiencing the diverse cultures and lifestyles of the collegiate citizenry gives us an enormous compendium on our fellow classmates.

Immersing yourself in another culture is a beautiful ordeal. It truly gives one a deeper understanding of the human condition. No matter from whence we come, or where we are going, we are all human, we are all the same deep down.  But we do have our differences. Everyone has a different way of carrying on day-to-day, and everyone will disagree with the next person about how life should be lived.

People love to throw around the, “Judge not lest ye be judged,” adage, but – to be honest – I feel bad for Jesus, because his words are being taken grossly out of context.  Jesus was speaking to his followers about hypocrisy. Do not judge others, he said, if you’re partaking in the same behavior.  Even if I don’t see eye-to-eye with someone, I need to understand them. This is where the true, “Judge not” comes in.

Stepping into someone’s shoes and trying to appreciate their pathology is the characterizing factor of understanding.  This is not tantamount to endorsement.  There is a fine line between tolerance and endorsement, respect and approval, a line which many do not seem to see.

I can vehemently disagree with someone’s lifestyle choices, but I do not look at them as subhuman.  This should apply to everyone. So what if we’re different, that’s what makes us human.  Universal endorsement would make us nothing more than eternal yes men. Understanding everyone, however, makes us something more than average.

About Author

These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

Comment here