I’ve been reading The Truth About Tolerance: Pluralism, Diversity and the Culture Wars by Brad Stetson and Joseph G. Conti. There are a lot of things in this book I already know, but I have found a deeper understanding of them through it. It puts our modern American idea of tolerance into historical, societal, philosophical, and moral context, and talks about how tolerance and truth really work together.
For this post, I wanted to talk about the disagreement part of tolerance. Depending on your view of what tolerance is, it means you can’t disagree with someone. But given what tolerance really is, if you didn’t disagree with someone, there would be no need to tolerate or put up with them. Tolerance would not need to exist without disagreement. So you can disagree with someone and still tolerate them, and you can tolerate someone and still disagree with them.
Disagreeing with someone’s beliefs and/or opinions is not the same as hating who they are as a person. Having someone disagree with you about your beliefs and/or opinions is not the same as them hating you as a person. You can both still get along. You can both disagree with each other and not hate each other. Disagreement is not hate speech. How you voice your disagreement can be hateful, but it shouldn’t be and often isn’t. Voicing your disagreement or someone else voicing theirs is a way to talk about your differences, understand them, and perhaps even come to an agreement. If you still do not agree, at least you have talked about it and know each other’s views better.