Say What You Really Mean: Tolerance

Today I am starting a new series on my blog called: Say What You Really Mean.  My plan is take words and concepts we see everyday and break them apart, look inside, and see what they really mean.

I will especially be focusing on political rhetoric and political correctness: What are we really doing when we are being “politically correct”?

Neutralizing our language and discourse surrounding issues like immigration, homosexuality, racism, gender, religious rights, freedom of speech, hate crime, and war does not change anything.  The same attitudes lie beneath our words no matter what we say.  Using “politically correct” terminology actually makes our attitudes less transparent and provides a way for people to still hate others, while sounding civilized and democratic.

I hope this discussion opens up some new avenues of dialogue, awareness, and understanding. Ultimately helping us focus on true change and not merely hiding our prejudice and hatred under the rug.


“Tolerance is a start. Acceptance is a way forward.

But, embracing each other is the future.”

Belfast Peace Wall


Tolerance is defined as a fair, objective and permissive attitude toward opinions and

practices that differ from one’s own.”

Hon Elizabeth Hubley  (Parliament of Canada: Debates of the Senate, 2011)


verb (used with object), -at·ed, -at·ing.

1. to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance; permit.
2. to endure without repugnance; put up with: I can tolerate laziness, but not incompetence.
3. Medicine/Medical . to endure or resist the action of (a drug, poison, etc.).
4. Obsolete . to experience, undergo, or sustain, as pain or hardship (


Today I want to explore the meaning behind the use of  the word tolerance. You see this word everywhere, particularly in the context of immigration and racism and it has been happening for a long time.

While tolerance may be a good a start to eliminating skin-colour and culture based racism, it is not an endpoint.

To tolerate something is to allow it to continue, even though you find it repugnant.  To endure and resist.

The time for tolerance has ended.

People do not need permission to be a colour other than white, something other than heterosexual, or something other than a man. Nor should society continue to perpetuate the idea that it is okay to hate someone, as long as you permit them them to carry on with their business.

So, the next time you see or read something discussing how we should be tolerant towards a particular person, culture, orientation, idea, think about this means: Are we really trying to embrace others who are different from us or are we merely allowing them to carry on, whilst still harbouring the pathetic hatred that lies beneath?



About Theresa

Writer, sister, mother, human.