I love social sites, and I'm an active member of quite a few. I day or so ago there was a post on one of my sites with a woman asking what Intolerance is... I found the question to be odd, I always just assumed the idea of tolerance vs. intolerance was rather a black and white one. But then I started reading through the answers and posts from other women and was truly amazed! So I felt, seeing how tolerance is spoke of so often in the Pagan community, that it was important to cover the subject here as well.
To understand the concept of tolerance we must first understand why it's so important. Our world is made up of Trillions of different people, and none of us are exactly like any other. For this very reason tolerance is something that should be a basic way of life. So what does it mean to really be tolerant? Tolerance is the understanding that every one of us is different and the acceptance that not everyone is going to agree with or like our way of life, and that we aren't going to like all of theirs, but that those simple differences in opinion, beliefs or genetic factors are not enough of a basis for hate.
Today, thankfully, we live in a society where racism and sexism are generally looked down on when it comes to businesses and organizations. However, when personal beliefs are racist or sexist people tend to just ignore it rather than ruffle feathers. While hate on the basis of religion, sexuality and lifestyle are still the norm in many communities around the country, and the world.
So where does a simple difference in opinion end and intolerance begin? Very simply a difference of opinion simply requires a difference in thinking, but doesn't allow for a basis of hate. You can disagree with homosexual lifestyles without hating homosexuals or without disliking someone based solely on their sexuality. It's only when those differences in opinion lead to the refusal to accept the basic differences in people which creates intolerance and hate. Acceptance is the key to tolerance!
So, our original question was "what is intolerance?" Basically intolerance is the refusal to accept that we are all different. While it's easy to see how people can take our most basic aspects and use them to create hate, it's more important to learn to see past those subtle differences. Human nature in part drives us all to look for reasons to be better than out neighbor. Each religion teaches the basic idea of loving those around us and not harming others. However a great many of them also teach that those on different paths are wrong. So how can we expect others to be tolerant and be loyal to their own beliefs. Again, it comes down to the acceptance that others are different. If we can learn to accept that others think, feel and believe differently than we do and that they are in no way better or worse than we are because of that fact we can conquer intolerance.