Don't Tolerate Different People

Recently, an NBA player by the name of Jason Collins came out and shared with the world that he is gay. Sports Illustrated had a whole section devoted to the story and I read it end to end. Something about this story caught my attention and intrigued me to no end.

Why should I even care? I don't know Collins. I don't even like basketball. In fact I pretty vehemently don't like basketball. Clearly this wasn't a basketball story. So is it a sports story then? I spent the whole weekend wondering and thinking about it.

Probably because of all the testosterone and adrenaline involved, professional sports has made little room for homosexuality.Until Collins came out there had never been an out gay person in major professional team sports in the United States. The article in SI mentioned that while Jackie Robinson was the first black person to play in a major league team sport, Collins is definitely not the first one to play. He's just the first one to come out. In fact, there are apparently four players in the NFL who are contemplating coming out as a group at some point soon. These people are out there, just hiding who they are.

This line of thinking brought me to the topic of tolerance. Do I have tolerance for gay people, black people, women? Of course I do. I have some very good friends in all of those categories. In fact, someone who I was in school with as a kid, who was "straight" then, is living today as an out gay man. And that hasn't changed how I view him and it doesn't change our friendship.

But is this really tolerance? I don't think it is. Here are a couple definitions of tolerance as defined by merriam-webster.com:
1. Capacity to endure pain or hardship
2. The act of allowing something
Is this what I am really describing above? It's not a hardship or pain for me to be friends with a gay person. It's definitely not a hardship or pain for me if someone I've never met and will never meet is gay. And who am I to say that I allow or don't allow someone else to be true to themselves, even if it goes against what my religion tells me? Even if it's what their religion says! That is not my place. If my religion tells me not to do something, then I need to be the one to implement that into MY life.

I want my kids to grow up with a respect for other people. For their beliefs, practices, religions, whatever. I don't want them to tolerate differences. I want them to embrace differences. If they aren't comfortable with something they can discuss it either with one of their parents, or better, they can discuss it in a healthy conversational manner with the person themselves. Get the answers directly from the source. No antagonism, no accusations, no negativity.

If we just tolerate differences we are still in the mindset of segregation, and that can be very bad.


  1. I agree with everything you said, except when it comes to Jihadists. I have NO tolerance there.

    1. I agree. There should be no tolerance for violence, regardless of who it is.

  2. Well written. Personally, I refuse to tolerate intolerance towards others for any reason