Undoubtably it means different things to different people.
Technically, however, the definition is pretty straight forward: it is the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.
So if you and I disagree on a particular subject we should both be “tolerant” of the other’s view.
In the past year I have seen that particular type of behavior go out the window and it is sad to me that folks are starting to be less tolerant of each other because of their beliefs.
It is a two-edged sword and intolerance faces in both directions.
When people start drawing a line in the sand over what they believe and not accepting the fact that you or someone else does not agree with them, a consequence of that intolerance can be bold statements.
I see this mostly in political views.
The fact that someone votes a certain way based on their own convictions does not mean they are stupid or ignorant when they disagree.
It seems that the ability to vote in a democracy is as Thomas Jefferson so boldly stated, that by providing voting rights for all people it would distribute and decentralize power as much as possible. That, by the way, only works if each individual voter can vote their own conscience.
To bully someone into voting a certain way by intimidation through name-calling or threats of “hell,” or questioning their religious belief, is not what a democracy is about.
Ask the Germans.
We are actually a Republic, by the way, in that we elect our representatives to govern us. A true democracy makes decisions by the votes of individuals.
The reason it works as well as it does is because voters can vote for whom they want to, thus we go into a voting booth and choose our candidate without someone standing there to intimidate us.
Granted, the intimidation may not be as bold as that, but, it is still there.
One of my pet peeves is when someone says that if you vote for so and so, then you can’t be a Christian.
Sorry, but in the Bible that I have read it doesn’t tell me who to vote for based on someone else’s interpretation. Nor do my core beliefs allow me to say that about someone else’s political decisions.
I like this quote by Bernard Meltzer: “If you have learned how to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secret of getting along - whether it be business, family relations, or life itself.”
Just remember, it is very difficult to be tolerant of folks who have no tolerance.