Apr 3, 2007

Tolerance vs. respect

As an 'outsider' I watched the last US presidential debates with real interest. Not only because I was already living in the US and because it final result would affect the whole world but sincerely I was trying to get what people may see in Bush Jr. (I must confess that I can't get pass those eyes that to me reveal a borderline IQ).

But after watching each debate and the final one between Kerry and Bush, I couldn't help but to get hooked on the language that they both have in common. And one of the words that both were using a lot was TOLERANCE. I started to feel uneasy. Something was really bothering me, rubbing me the wrong way, while 'tolerance' was used again and again and again, by both candidates...

And then, suddenly, it was clear to me: tolerance is very different from respect. Tolerance is finite. Tolerance is a torment. When someone is tortured, is their tolerance (to pain in this case) the one that is challenged. Tolerance can be break. Tolerance is what makes someone 'tolerate' something that they do not agree with, until one day they can't tolerate it anymore and Columbine happens. You may be tolerating something with suffering or you may be tolerating it because if you don't, you would be breaking the law. Tolerance can be imposed over you by the law.

Respect on the other hand, can't be imposed by law. Respect is not something that can be break. You may lose your respect for someone or something, but respect does not mean suffering. Respect means a bit more of understanding.

And these candidates, both of them, where talking about tolerance in phrases where they should have been talking about 'respect'. That sudden realization really frightened me.

Shouldn't this country focus a little more in learn how to respect their differences, instead of repeating to themselves that they have to tolerate the ideas or lifestyles that they do not share?

Meanwhile, I hope you, my dear reader, can respect my ideas and not just 'tolerate' them!

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