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Not Interchangeable

There are two words…

tol·er·ance
ˈtäl(ə)rəns
noun
1.the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.
“the tolerance of corruption”

synonyms: acceptance, toleration; open-mindedness, broad-mindedness, forbearance, liberality, liberalism; patience, charity, indulgence, understanding
“an attitude of tolerance toward other people”

And

ac·cept·ance
əkˈseptəns
noun
1.the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.
“charges involving the acceptance of bribes”
synonyms:receipt, receiving, taking, obtaining

2.the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group.
“you must wait for acceptance into the club”
synonyms:welcome, favorable reception, adoption
“her acceptance into the group”

Are you asking what’s your point? My point is those two words are NOT interchangeable. What brings this about is a conversation I had with Boss Lady the other day, or rather a part of one of our conversations. This topic has come up before too (we love to gab until we are blue in the face the two of us).

Let me make my case for why these two words are not interchangeable and why one is sinister and the other is not.

Lets revisit the definition of “tolerance”

1.the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.
“the tolerance of corruption”

Great, sure that’s when it applies to a something, opinion or behavior. Apply that to a person, a nation of people, a group of people.

It becomes sinister. People “tolerate” others, their presence, their being.

Tolerate a person in your personal life because you may have to do so and not that you wanted to do so? Does that even make sense? It creates this undertone of underhandedness and double meanings. It creates this sinister feel to the action regarding that person in your life. Is that what that person is to you? Or do you accept them.

Let us now revisit the second definition of “acceptance”, because the first one doesn’t apply to this post per say.

2.the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group.

Applying this definition in the reverse of received, as in giving we see now that acceptance is completely different from tolerance.

Apply it to a group – the LGBTQ+ community. I accept the community for everything that they are (If I didn’t, well I’d be a bit of a freaking hypocrite wouldn’t I). I don’t refer to that acceptance as tolerating them. There’s nothing to tolerate when you accept a person for who they are completely.

So in that manner acceptance is not a sinister, underhanded word. A double edged sword of sorts like tolerance is. The word tolerance is used to be politically correct while still not accepting a person, or group of people for who they are. It’s a sometimes nasty and underhanded way of avoiding being mean in public view.

On another hand, tolerance has been erroneously accepted by society as interchangeable with acceptance. We have all been taught, wrongfully, that it is interchangeable. I do concede that tolerance or its variants are correct uses in some situations but very few situations call for the use of the word tolerance. Acceptance denotes taking a person or group for all that they are and everything that they are and saying “I see you for you and I embrace it without prejudice or judgement”.

That’s the message we need to teach outright while not tolerating those who would say to tolerate a person or people.

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