I was reminded today of a word I really hate: Tolerance.
Tolerance is a term that is often used in the media or in speeches by government officials to express the ideal attitude that should be taken towards visible minorities. Tolerance is an evil little word. It lulls all of us into a false sense of security, into feeling accepted and liked by the communities in which we live, because the people are tolerant. But tolerance and acceptance are very different words that mean very different things.
Various dictionaries give different definitions of either terms but at the heart of the matter, tolerance has a negative connotation: you don't like something, but there's nothing else you can do about it. Whereas acceptance sounds much nicer: even if you're different, I think it's great. In these days where a black was elected to the highest office in the western world, where everyone is allowed to vote and where Martin Luther King day is acknowledged all around the hemisphere we still see a world like tolerance in the press...
Racial tolerance, religious tolerance, cultural tolerance. I'm sick and tired of seeing tolerance masquerading as acceptance.
Today is Chinese New Year, I was attending a lecture this morning and sitting next to a young woman of Chinese origin. Towards the end of the lecture a man sitting near us walk up to hear and says "Happy new year... kwon yu yi jang ju!!!" he starts to laugh and says "Did I say that right?" I told the man to take a seat and that me and him would talk outside, after the lecture. We're both grown men so no punches were thrown, that and I have a strict policy of not punching mentally challenged people in the face. But we did have a heated exchange of words until a few people came and broke up the argument. The argument ended with him saying that he was just joking that he tolerated everyone!
His last sentence pretty much covers exactly what I've read in newspapers or heard in the media.