Day 10: Tolerance crucial to messy side of community building


Initially, I had some difficulty getting my head around today’s theme. I guess that tolerance is better than intolerance which can lead to all kinds of conflict and hurt. But is that “good “enough?

Day 10 of the 12 Days for Good: ACCEPTANCE / TOLERANCE12 days for good  2013

Today’s the tenth day of the 12 Days for Good coordinated as a pay it forward campaign by the House of Friendship. On Twitter? Follow all the goodness by following #12daysforgood and contribute your own good deeds too!

Today’s theme is “Acceptance/Tolerance” which is described as to be open-minded and patient, to listen and to accept  so that all might be acknowledged and recognized and feel part of our community

Tolerance a good place to start

I like the idea of “acceptance” better than “tolerance.” Tolerating someone or something seems like a minimal goal. It’s on the plus side of the ledger but not overly so. Acceptance of others and their ideas is some degree better from a community building perspective. But then as fellow Do Gooder Cameron Dearlove eloquently wrote, inclusion improves upon acceptance.

So tolerance, acceptance and inclusion are all along the same continuum. All are good. Tolerance is a good place to start. It may not be good enough and we may be better to strive for inclusion. But tolerance or acceptance can be good enough on their own since that may be what is appropriate for a given situation

Avoiding the road to conflict, division and hurt is a very good thing.

Tolerance moves community forward

Community building is not always a quiet, collegial process. It can be messy and involve vigorous discussions featuring competing or conflicting ideas.

The presence of tolerance is crucial to working through to find the best way forward for as many of us as possible.

Tolerance helps us remember that even when we don’t agree with an idea or an approach that we all have a right to our own perspectives and that we come to them through different experiences and realities.

Too often when tackling community issues, people make up their mind (not always with sufficient or correct information) and then put blinders on. Anyone who disagrees is wrong. Constructive criticism may not be accepted. Facts may not be allowed to get in the way of a good line of argument. It becomes a with us or against us mentality. The LRT debate is a good example.

Tolerance helps us to remember that in most cases we’re trying to get to the same place–a better community–even if we don’t always agree on how to get there.

Better yet, tolerance can lead to greater openness to the ideas of others. That openness may help us  find common ground to find a collaborative solution, or help us understand the context for where someone is coming from or even incorporate new information to change our position.

That’s what I try to do even if I fall short of that at times.

What tolerance in community building means to me

I honestly do and try to increasingly make that effort the longer I’m sharing my own perspectives.

I know I haven’t always been tolerant. I’m far from perfect. Part of that is growing as a person and also figuring out how to use social media to advance community building.

On the other hand, I normally take positions after a thoughtful process and having arrived at that place I’m prepared to defend / promote it. I don’t believe that should be confused with intolerance. Rather I see it as part of that messy side of community building that may mean vigorous discussion and competing solutions.

The more tolerance that exists by those involved, the better off the whole community is as we recognize we’re all trying to get to the same place. Yet  we can still be civil or friends with those we’ve disagreed with and maybe work side by side on a future issue.

That’s my food for thought for today. I’ll keep it in mind as I move forward even if I don’t always do so flawlessly.

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