When I saw the title of today's #DailyWritingChallenge my eyes lit up....and then they reverted back and my face sported a frown. It's ok - I've stopped frowning, but it's definitely given me food for thought. Writing about them may allow me to make sense of my musings - and maybe it will be the provocation for yours. 
Tolerance, on first glance, appears to be a passive word. "I tolerated her bad attitude"; "Peace begins with tolerance and respect for everyone"; "The highest result of education is tolerance" - Helen Keller. On reflection - it's not passive, is it? It can be seen as requiring the receiver to 'not react or take action.' Is that easy? No. Maybe this is why tolerance is seen as a value worth aspiring to. However.... 
"Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice" 
Now this quote has managed to sum up my 'uneasy' feelings and thoughts about tolerance. It also brings to mind the #DiverseEd conference that took place on Twitter on 13th June where the subtitle was: 'Be Where You Are Celebrated, Not Tolerated'. I remember, as part of a question posed by a participant, during the session that I was on the panel on, advising that if you felt that you were being tolerated, then you shouldn't be and that you should question whether this was the setting for you. 
As I reflect on this, it's enabled me to feel justified in the major life decisions that I have made in my life - some of them have been very tricky - and I guess that it's a truly personal decision that only you can answer. For example - and this is especially for my black sisters although everyone will have their equivalent situation - when I was younger I used to get my hair relaxed. Relaxing Afro hair is actually a mad thing to do - putting active chemical on your hair to enable it to be more manageable. The active chemical HURTS as it affects the hair and there are recommended timings on how long it needs to remain on the hair before it is washed off. In comparison to my sisters who could often keep the relaxer on for ages (and again, bizarrely, there was a badge of honour in keeping it on for a long time) I was a wuss. A proper scaredy cat. Could not tolerate it AT ALL. I tried but failed to keep it on for the minimum time. I burnt my scalp on a number of occasions!!! You won't be surprised to know that I don't relax my hair anymore. 
I struggled to keep the chemical on my hair but I went through with it for the hope of having more manageable hair. Did I feel better during the process? No. Did I persevere? Yes. I believe that in the struggle, the end result was the prize and that sense of sacrifice was the cost. Can we get hooked on the struggle? Let me unpack the two graphic quotations and contextualise them for further probing. 
"Be careful what you tolerate. You are teaching people how to treat you." 
I like this quote - for me it sums up the conflict I have of the word tolerance and its definition. I made reference earlier to what we will each tolerate and the differences that we all have. One thing that has become apparent to me as I get older is my lack of tolerance! Or am I less tolerant? I believe that rather than being less tolerant, I think that I have a stronger idea of what I will accept and what I won't accept. I also feel that my sense of self worth is high so I am not prepared to lower my 'price'. I want this to be known, so articulating this is important to me and this also shows in the way I present myself to others. Do you sometimes 'allow' stuff to happen that you know that you shouldn't? Yep, me too! But does this mean that I cannot learn or change because I am so 'fixed'? 
"Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice". 
Now - this quote is more controversial but is also true to me - from a more collective viewpoint. It states - to me - that if you do not challenge others with an opposing view to your own then you are a coward. Very strong!!!! It very much ties in with where we are on the #BlackLivesMatters issue and one that I have personally struggled with. The death of George Floyd has opened the floodgates for all black people in the UK and across the world. We feel that we have been silent and have - for YEARS - tolerated the micro aggressions, the lack of opportunities in our life chances, the police oppressions, the systemic racism. This time round, we want to talk about it. We NEED to talk about it. All of it. And we want and need it to change but we aren't the ones to change it. This is where the controversy kicks in - as we don't want to be confrontational, but the 'silence is violence' statement makes the rest of us uncomfortable. We are still navigating our way through this, but what is encouraging is the emerging willingness to listen and learn. Who wants to be told that you are part of the problem because you haven't acknowledged that your pacifism is adding to the problem? 
So - as Coldplay sang, "let's go back to the start". Is tolerance a passive word? I guess it can be. It's a personal choice on how much tolerance can be applied to specific situations where you have control, but when applied collectively it has weight and strength to move. Or not move, depending on the context. It makes me believe that tolerance is a value that is a bit like a skill - it needs to be applied judiciously for it to be effective. 
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