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How can I Become More Tolerant?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
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To be tolerant is to be respectful of the belief systems or practices of others, either as an individual or as a culture. The term tolerance is often applied in religion or in society as an understanding that others may have different belief systems, or look different. In fact, governments like the US, while imperfect, were founded on the concept of tolerance, particularly in the ability to freely practice different religions.

Understanding the culture or practices of others can help a person who feels he or she is not tolerant enough. This does not mean one has to go so far as to practice in the same manner as others. Someone who wishes to become more tolerant of a homosexual lifestyle does not have to become a homosexual. Joining organizations like PFLAG, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays can help promote tolerance and empathy.

In the program 30 Days a documentary/reality show created by Morgan Spurlock, Spurlock has taken people from diverse backgrounds and immersed them for 30 days in a very different culture. One episode was particularly effective, when a fundamentalist Christian agreed to live with an Islamic family for 30 days.

Most interesting was the fact that the Christian was concerned about praying with the Muslims, since he felt he would be praying to the wrong God. He was unaware that Islam derives from the Judeo-Christian tradition, and that Muslims worship the same God, albeit with some difference in interpretation.

Thus learning about a practice to become more tolerant can make one aware of the similarities, as well as the differences. In the case of the person trying to become more tolerant of homosexuality, it may help to be open to befriending someone who is gay.

Being more tolerant is often frightening work for people with a rigid belief structure. In some cases, people believe it is morally wrong to tolerate behavior they define as sinful. However, even in huge religious structures like Roman Catholicism, where active homosexual behavior is considered sinful, parishioners are asked to separate the “sin from the sinner.”

Thus Catholics and many other religious groups are enjoined to love all people, regardless of their behavior. This can produce more tolerant behavior in open-minded people, but may be hard to obtain in people who abhor a certain behavior.

Discarding one's religious beliefs isn't required to become more tolerant. Often, being more tolerant means accepting that other people need to find their own paths and judge by their own consideration of what is right.

Being more tolerant ultimately comes down to deciding to let other people make their own mistakes, as you define them, and live their own lives. It also implies respect for people of all religions and races. Tolerance is promoted by understanding similarities and differences, and inhibited by refusing to express empathy. Learning, one of our greatest assets, does help people become more tolerant, and can help one on the path to being less judgmental.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Language & Humanities contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon317088 — On Jan 31, 2013

The physical realm is one of polarity. The areas in which you find yourself intolerant are actually indicators of the "areas" within yourself that you are viewing (judging, labeling) with only half the picture (half the understanding of) and need to experience more of in order to obtain enough information to complete the understanding of (two halves make a whole) in order for you to see and understand the whole picture.

I've become more tolerant of others by realizing we are each vibrating at our own individual signature frequencies (stages) of consciousness (conscious of being conscious development), meaning just because you see another in an "adult" body form does not mean they have accumulated enough experiences to view the world around them from a "conscious of being conscious" viewpoint until one has experienced both sides of duality, which takes time and space.

People run on autopilot programs like the ones installed by the environment and those around them when they were young, while they are getting used to experiencing the polarities of the physical world while being in a bodily form, until they come to acquire enough experiences to write their own script from which to view and respond to the external world. They also realize and accept that they can deliberately bring a state of conscious of being conscious awareness (deliberate, conscious awareness) into each and every action /reaction of every moment.

Thus, each of us is doing the best we can with the tools of development we presently have in that moment, instead of becoming irritated plant seeds of information for the other to take into contemplation in order for them to evolve into the next stage. The energy of anger upon them only serves to cause them to block your seed of information, so delivering the seed with the energy of unconditional love and understanding where they are at in that moment is very important, both for your own development and theirs.

By anon218653 — On Sep 29, 2011

I don't think I'm tolerant. I find a lot of people irritating and have bad communication skills. I can be understanding and stuff, but not if I think something or someone is just plain stupid or ignorant or is just doing stuff for attention. I find it hard to be nice to people when I don't really know them, because I have seen no reason to respect them.

By anon52351 — On Nov 13, 2009

im tolerant

By anon6096 — On Dec 15, 2007

I didn't used to be a tolerant person but now that I have read this article, I think I am.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Language & Humanities contributor,...
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