Being a tolerant society is really not an admirable goal. It sounds like an admirable goal and it's become a very political word, but you need to examine it's uses and meaning.
- We tolerate a noisy child on the bus.
- We tolerate elevator music, or hold music when we're on the phone.
Tolerance is merely allowing someone to live without the burden of having to recognise them as an equal. Tolerance presumes superiority and a position of control or authority. Tolerance grants permission but does not require respect; your tolerance says I only exist because you deigned to acknowledge me. Tolerance is not a virtue, it is a trial to be overcome.
Acceptance is the sign of a mature and equal society, where it can blossom into a respectful acknowledgement of our diversity. What is acceptance?
- Acceptance is not an agreement, it is an understanding that your presumed privilege need not come at the expense of others.
- Acceptance is recognition that the value of my right to self determination is equal to the value of yours.
Acceptance is the ability to let other people live despite your disagreement or distaste for their lifestyle, their heritage, their sexuality, or their subculture. Acceptance allows you to extend your privilege to those who have been denied it. Acceptance acknowledges that I do not need your consensus, because I am just fine on my own.
Tolerance is simply not enough, and we need to do better.