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Minerva as a symbol of enlightened wisdom protects the believers of all religions (Daniel Chodowiecki, 1791)

In a general meaning, tolerance is the ability to accept something while disapproving of it.

In social, cultural and religious contexts, Toleration and tolerance are terms used to describe attitudes which are "tolerant" (or moderately respectful) of practices or group memberships that may be disapproved of by those in the majority. In practice, "tolerance" indicates support for practices that prohibit ethnic and religious discrimination. Conversely, 'intolerance' may be used to refer to the discriminatory practices sought to be prohibited. Though developed to refer to the religious toleration of minority religious sects following the Protestant Reformation, these terms are increasingly used to refer to a wider range of tolerated practices and groups, or of political parties or ideas widely considered objectionable.[1]

Contents

History

As a practical matter, governments have always had to consider the question of which groups and practices to tolerate and which to persecute. The [[Ed\ cts of Ashoka]] issued by Ashoka the Great in the Maurya Empire declared ethnic and religious tolerance. The later expanding Roman Empire faced the question of whether or to what extent practices or beliefs could be tolerated or vigorously persecuted. Likewise, during the Middle Ages, the rulers of Christian Europe or the Muslim Middle East sometimes extended toleration to minority religious groups, and sometimes did not. Jews in particular suffered under anti-Semitic persecutions in medieval Europe.[2][3] A notable exception was Poland, which served as a haven for European Jewry because of its relative tolerance - by the mid-sixteenth century, 80 percent of the world’s Jews lived in Poland. [4]

An early champion of toleration in Europe was Pawel Wlodkowic, who at the Council of Constance advocated the pagan nations' rights.[5] However, the development of a body of theory on the subject of toleration didn't begin until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in response to the Protestant Reformation and the Wars of Religion and persecutions that followed the breaks with the Catholic Church instigated by Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli and others. In response to the theory of persecution that was used to justify wars of religion and the execution of persons convicted of heresy and witchcraft, writers such as Sebastian Castellio and Michel de Montaigne questioned the morality of religious persecution, and offered arguments for toleration. By contrast, Poland, which had been uniquely tolerant and ethnically as well as religiously diverse, officially confirmed its status as "a place of shelter for heretics" in the Confederation of Warsaw of 1573,[6] the first toleration act in Europe.[7]

A detailed and influential body of writing on the question of toleration was produced in Britain in the seventeenth century, during and after the destructive English Civil Wars. John Milton and radical Parliamentarians such as Gerrard Winstanley argued that Christian and Jewish worship should be protected, and it was during the period that Oliver Cromwell allowed the return of Jews to England. These early theories of toleration were limited however, and did not extend toleration to Roman Catholics (who were perceived as disloyal to their country) or atheists (who were held to lack any moral basis for action). John Locke, in his Letter Concerning Toleration and Two Treatises of Government proposed a more detailed and systematic theory of toleration, which included a principle of Separation of Church and State that formed the basis for future constitutional democracies, but also did not extend toleration to Roman Catholics or atheists. The British Toleration Act of 1689 was the political result of seventeenth century theorists and political exigency, which despite the limited scope of the toleration it granted was nevertheless a key development in the history of toleration, which helped produce greater political stability in the British Isles.

The philosophers and writers of the Enlightenment, especially Voltaire and Lessing, promoted and further developed the notion of religious tolerance, which however was not sufficient to prevent the atrocities of the Reign of Terror. The incorporation by Thomas Jefferson and others of Locke's theories of toleration into the Constitution of the United States of America was arguably more successful.

Discussions of toleration therefore often divided between those who view the term as a minimal and perhaps even historical virtue (perhaps today to be replaced by a more positive and robust appreciation of pluralism or diversity), and those who view it as a concept with an important continuing vitality, and who are more likely to use the term in considering contemporary issues regarding discrimination on the basis of race, nationality, gender, sexuality, disability, and other reasons.

There are also debates with regard to the historical factors that produced the principle of toleration, as well as to the proper reasons toleration should be exercised, with some arguing that the growth of skepticism was an important or necessary factor in the development of toleration, and others arguing that religious belief or an evolving notion of respect for individual persons was or is the basis on which toleration was or should be practiced.

Tolerance and monotheism

One theory of the origins of religious intolerance, propounded by Sigmund Freud in Moses and Monotheism, links intolerance to monotheism. More recently, Bernard Lewis and Mark Cohen have argued that the modern understanding of tolerance, involving concepts of national identity and equal citizenship for persons of different religions, was not considered a value by pre-modern Muslims or Christians, due to the implications of monotheism.[8] The historian G.R. Elton explains that in pre-modern times, monotheists viewed such toleration as a sign of weakness or even wickedness towards God. [9] The usual definition of tolerance in pre-modern times as Bernard Lewis puts it was that:

I am in charge. I will allow you some though not all of the rights and privileges that I enjoy, provided that you behave yourself according to rules that I will lay down and enforce."[10]

Mark Cohen states that it seems that all the monotheistic religions in power throughout the history have felt it proper, if not obligatory, to persecute nonconforming religions. [11] Therefore, Cohen concludes, Medieval Islam and Medieval Christianity in power should have persecuted non-believers in their lands and "Judaism, briefly in power during the Hasmonean period (second century BCE) should have persecuted pagan Idumeans". [11] Cohen continues: "When all is said and done, however, the historical evidence indicates that the Jews of Islam, especially during the formative and classical centuries (up to thirteenth century), experienced much less persecution than did the Jews of Christendom. This begs a more thorough and nuanced explanation than has hitherto been given."[11]

Tolerating the intolerant

Philosopher Karl Popper asserted, in The Open Society and Its Enemies Vol. 1, that we are warranted in refusing to tolerate intolerance; illustrating that there are limits to tolerance.

Philosopher John Rawls devotes a section of his influential and controversial book A Theory of Justice to this problem; whether a just society should or should not tolerate the intolerant. He also addresses the related issue of whether or not the intolerant have any right to complain when they are not tolerated, within their society.

Rawls concludes that a just society must be tolerant; therefore, the intolerant must be tolerated, for otherwise, the society would then itself be intolerant, and thus unjust. However, Rawls qualifies this conclusion by insisting, like Popper, that society and its social institutions have a reasonable right of self-preservation that supersedes the principle of tolerance. Hence, the intolerant must be tolerated but only insofar as they do not endanger the tolerant society and its institutions.[citation needed]

Tolerance as a spiritual virtue

Swami Tripurari states that the practice of tolerance leads to the ability to distinguish the jiva (soul) from the mind and body.[12]

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says "... the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception ... and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.[1] the person who is not disturbed by happiness and distress and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation."[2]

References

  1. ^ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Toleration
  2. ^ Vartan Gregorian, "Islam: A Mosaic, Not a Monolith", Brookings Institution Press, 2003, pg 26-38 ISBN 081573283X
  3. ^ Granada by Richard Gottheil, Meyer Kayserling, Jewish Encyclopedia. 1906 ed.
  4. ^ Jewish Virtual Library - Poland
  5. ^ Britannica Online - Poland: The rule of Jagielo
  6. ^ Portal UNESCO, Poland - The General Confederation of Warsaw
  7. ^ Dzieje podzielone, Prof. Janusz Tazbir, Polityka 03-07-2004
  8. ^ Lewis (1997), p.321; (1984) p.65; Cohen (1995), p.xix
  9. ^ quoted in Cohen (1995), p.xix
  10. ^ Lewis (2006), pp.25-36
  11. ^ a b c Cohen (1995) p. xix
  12. ^ Swami Tripurari, "Tolerance: the Ornament of the Saints", Sanga, 1999.
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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Tolerance is a willingness or ability to tolerate something.

Sourced

  • I could say analogously that tolerance is the affable appreciation of qualities, views, and actions of other individuals which are foreign to one`s own habits, beliefs, and tastes. Thus being tolerant does not mean being indifferent towards the actions and feelings of others. Understanding and empathy must also be present....
  • The doctrine of toleration requires a positive as well as a negative statement. It is not only wrong to burn a man on account of his creed, but it is right to encourage the open avowal and defence of every opinion sincerely maintained. Every man who says frankly and fully what he thinks is so far doing a public service. We should be grateful to him for attacking most unsparingly our most cherished opinions.

Unsourced

  • "...neither tolerance nor intolerance is grounded in science and reason, but they are themselves acts of faith grounded in social custom and the politics of expediency and power." ~ John Money
  • "We must respect other religions even as we respect our own. Mere tolerance thereof is not enough." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
  • "The highest result of education is tolerance." ~ Helen Keller
  • "Not the power to remember, but its very opposite, the power to forget, is a necessary condition for our existence." ~ Sholem Asch
  • "Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names." ~ John F Kennedy
  • "One cannot live life in the past loathing over their adversaries, but must tolerate them and treat them as they would treat an ally." ~ Zach Parker
  • "Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions." G.K. Chesterton
  • "When you speak in His presence about your past sins, He does not even understand your language. Only the present and the future have any interest for Him. . .I have committed crimes and have blood on my conscience. I told Jesus about it again and again. But because He had long ago washed all this away, there was no possibility of communication between us. He did not understand what I was talking about." ~ Richard Wurmbrand

External links

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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to Selassie's speech on Tolerance article)

From Wikisource

Tolerance
by Haile Selassie, translated by Haile Selassie I Press
Information about this edition
Undated speech

Opening

It gives us great pleasure to appear before this distinguished assemblage and we bring you the fraternal salutations of the Ethiopian people.

The people of Ethiopia and Trinidad and Tobago are joined in a massive and continuous effort to create for themselves a new and better way of life. They face many of the same problems. The hopes and aspirations which they share derive from the same essential beliefs in the nature and destiny of man. It is thus inevitably true that there should exist between those two great peoples strong and lasting ties of friendship and understanding

Your role as the representatives of the people is a particularly critical one in the councils of the twentieth century. The manner in which a representative of the people should properly discharge his responsibilities has long been a matter for learned discussion among philosophers and political scientists.

The world of the developing nations is creating new problems for the scholars to ponder as new societies are emerging to deal with the intricate and explosive questions of national and institutional development.

Is a representative responsible only to a constituency or to the particular group or interest which has chosen or appointed him? Certainly this responsibility Must be an element in the thought and action of such a man, but there are higher values and greater interests and responsibilities than these.

Obstacles, Sectional, tribal and other divisive factors often pose major obstacles to national development. In their expanded sense, as narrowly national and ideological interests, they threaten unity and progress.

No one is today so foolish as to believe that any one nation constitutes a perfect monolith of faith and ideology. Nor could anyone wish that there should be such utter vanity of thought and aspiration.

The systems of Government which have sought to impose uniformity of belief have survived briefly and then expired, blinded and weakened by obsessive reliance upon their supposed infallibility. The only system of Government which can survive is one which is prepared to tolerate dissent and criticism and Which accepts these as useful and in any case, inevitable aspects of all social and political relations.

The tolerance of dissent and criticism within a Government proceeds from a single essential premise: that the Government exists to serve the people generally. Government servants, whether designated as representatives or not, have a trust to work for the general welfare.

The same trust exists among the member states of international organizations. The members of such organizations must adhere to some tacit or expressed conception of international welfare.

Common Goals

In the case of the Organization of African Unity, it is an African Unity, it is an African welfare; in the case of the United Nations Organization, it is world welfare.

In one way or another, the member nation must accept in thought, spirit and action the basic premise of their institutions that men of all races, beliefs and status share some essential common goals.

From this premise, no great and easy actions follow as corollaries. The representatives of peoples and nations can only come together with open and objective minds and willing hearts to engage in dialogue, without rigid dogmas and slogans and without violence.

Working in this way achieves no instant Utopia. It may, however, enable us to achieve together what it is possible to achieve and to move forward steadily, if not always in great haste, with some degree of harmony and mutual understanding.

Domestically, we can build strong and happy and resourceful societies. internationally, we can force the end of oppression of man by man and nation by nation. We can bring about the security and mutual trust which will open the way to the greater human achievements for which the needs of mankind now cry out.

Permit me to express my heartfelt gratitude for the reception accorded me by the people and Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

This translation is hosted with different licensing information than from the original text. The translation status applies to this edition.
Original:
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This work is in the public domain because it was first created in Ethiopia.

Under Title XI of the 1960 Ethiopian Civil Code, copyright exists only during the lifetime of the author.

In addition, any potential Ethiopian copyrights are non-binding in the United States, according to Circ. 38a of the US Copyright Office.

Translation:
PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain worldwide because it has been so released by the copyright holder.

Simple English

For tolerance in culture, see toleration.


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