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Tolerance seems to be the catch-word of the day. College campuses regularly promote the ideal of diversity while much of corporate America strives to create a positive work environment of inclusion and acceptance. But despite these efforts, the question remains whether people truly understands how to put tolerance into practice. Fortunately, there are a variety of resources and lessons plans available to teach tolerance.
By definition, tolerance is the ability to look fairly and objectively at the views of others – views that you may not hold yourself. At its core, tolerance is the absence of bigotry.
Like many people, you might ask why you should tolerate something you don’t agree with. And this illustrates the most common misconception of tolerance. It does not mean accepting an opposing viewpoint as something that is true or right; it simply means accepting that another person has the right to their opinion as well.
For example, think about your roommate or maybe the person who works in the next cubicle over. Perhaps you hate the idea of cluttering up your space, but the person next to you has created a corkboard overflowing with pictures, post-it notes and two year old Chinese take-out menus. You don’t have to love their corkboard to tolerate it. You can still hate the idea of excess clutter while still accepting that others have the right to do what they want with their space.
Having an overflowing corkboard is a relatively minor issue but the basic concept of tolerance is same for any number of other issues facing our world today. Religious tolerance and racial tolerance are a few of the challenges colleges and corporate America struggle with today. Just as you have no right to rip down someone else’s corkboard, no one has a right to dictate to others their beliefs.
When you learn tolerance, you learn how to civilly disagree with someone else while still respecting their right to their opinion. A number of diversity programs and lessons plans are available to teach these important skills to people of every walk of life. Diversity lessons don’t need to be dry or boring. With just a little research, you can find fun and imaginative programs designed with your group in mind.
Whether you are teaching tolerance to college students or need to host a seminar for a business group, everyone can benefit from the lessons of tolerance and diversity. And when we take these lessons to heart, our communities and nation benefit as well.
Zohra Sarwari is one of the nation’s foremost Muslim women speakers. She has been featured at numerous seminars and conferences. Her talks combine humor with the real-world perspective of a Muslim living in America’s Midwest. A published author, Mrs. Sarwari has written extensively on the subjects of tolerance, diversity and the truth behind the Islamic religion. To learn more about Mrs. Sarwari and how she can help your organization effectively create tolerance, visit www.muslimwomanspeaker.com