I Tolerate, You Tolerate…

We all tolerate.

I’m going to have to break myself of the habit of going to the dictionary every time I get curious about the meaning of a word. It’s leading to knowledge and that can be dangerous.

Take the business of toleration. Of being tolerant. I always thought it was a comfortable word – sort of a feel-good we-all-love-each-other thing. Kumbiya in the English language. Turns out it is sort of snide and sad.

The dictionary deems it to mean putting up with something unpleasant or abhorrent that we do not agree with. It goes on the specify religious toleration and says that the history of the term was particularly derived from the rules of the French King – who might put up with Protestants or Jews or Muslims…or not, as he liked. It was a hair-trigger term for permission to live in France – permission that could be rescinded at the will of the monarch.


The only thing good about it was it was quieter and less painful than intolerance. That was stabbing and burning and robbing and exile.

If we are living in a tolerant society now in Australia, who does the tolerating and who is the tolerated? Betcha it appears in the constitution somewhere – and lets you know who the dominant party thinks it should be.

Hope it’s not me. I would find the business of tolerating people a right pain.

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