Like so many contested terms, it is obvious and much safer to understand that tolerance has no universally accepted definition. Diversely contextualized, defined, described, illustrated, and subsequently understood by scholars and non-scholars alike, the concept and processes of tolerance is chronologically ternary: accepting, respecting, and appreciating differences. These differences may be political, religious, racial, tribal, sportal and so forth, and they can either be on a temporal or permanent basis as well as natural or socially constructed.
The core is the truism that differences exist between us (humans), even among twins.
One of the beauties of tolerance is its recipelike nature for peaceful co-existence. We cannot live in the same society or space without acknowledging our diverse differences that give births to opinions, perspectives, and behaviours. It is vital for one to display their difference, but it is more vital and safe to allow a display of other people’s differences _ this must induce one’s ego to retreat. This is justifiable by Kofi Annan’s position that “tolerance, inter-cultural dialogue and respect for diversity are more essential than ever in a world where peoples are becoming more and more closely interconnected”.
Tolerance is neither Eurocentric nor it is Afrocentric, and it not peculiar to any society. It is a universal panacean. It is also significant to understand that the idea of being tolerant is humanely rather than perceiving it to be carved by certain group of people who may deliberately contextualize the idea of tolerance purposely to justify and serve their own interests.
One of the interesting things about tolerance is the fact that all major groups including religious groups, racial groups, political groups, and sportal groups in the globe preach for it. Despite this reality, we still witness chaos, wars, and all forms of conflict. This oxymoronic reality poses a rhetorical question: “why?”. Bewilderingly, various groups consider their perceived opponents as intolerant, but none accept their intolerance. If confession will be the determiner of intolerance, then there will be no intolerant person or group in existence.
Perceiving that those in academia are immune to intolerance is a grave misconception.
Intolerant people are visible in all facets of life. As a mental disease, it does not discriminate. However, patience is an effective antidote against it. We have seen number of people in academia being intolerant to their colleagues, students, lecturers, or any of those they work with in any form. This is evident in how students sometimes treat the questions of their peers. They sometimes ridicule and insult others for asking question that they think is useless. This is because they assume that others should know and understand the same way that they do, forgetting that the brains they use are different. Here comes one of the features of an intolerant person. Their intolerance does not stop at their peers or those within the academic fraternity. It extensionally reaches to those that are outside academia who are even more different from them. This commensurate with Robert Chambers assertion that “What is perceived depends on the perceiver. Outsiders have their own interests, preferences and preconceptions, their own rationalizations, their own defences for excluding or explaining the discordant and the distressing.” He uses outsiders as an umbrella term to include but not limited to the academicians. Like my own argument, the core argument of his is a highlight of how some so-called educated people ignore the differences with the pretence of being smarter than others. This is why Hellen Keller is right in his position that “the highest result of education is tolerance.”
Ultimately, for the world to be a perfect hub for all, all ought to accept, respect, and appreciate the differences of all.
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