I think we can sometimes forget the power of words we use. We know (or should know) to steer away from language that sexist, racist, homophobic, or otherwise bigoted or hurtful. But do you ever stop to think about the true meaning of commonly-used words?
Take “tolerance”. Often in the media or in common discourse, we hear talk of being “tolerant” of others, of creating a “tolerant” society.
Let’s look at a definition:
1: capacity to endure pain or hardship : endurance, fortitude, stamina
2a : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own
b : the act of allowing something : toleration
3: the allowable deviation from a standard; especially : the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension in machining a piece
4a (1) : the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (as a drug) or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure <developed a tolerance to painkillers>; also : the immunological state marked by unresponsiveness to a specific antigen (2) : relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor
b : the maximum amount of a pesticide residue that may lawfully remain on or in food
Not very nice, really, is it? How about choosing a different word …
1: the act of including : the state of being included
2: something that is included: as
a : a gaseous, liquid, or solid foreign body enclosed in a mass (as of a mineral)
b : a passive usually temporary product of cell activity (as a starch grain) within the cytoplasm or nucleus
3: a relation between two classes that exists when all members of the first are also members of the second — compare membership 3
4: the act or practice of including students with disabilities in regular school classes
I vote that we avoid the word “tolerance” in day to day speech, and try to opt for “inclusion” instead.