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Monday, 5 June 2017


Tolerance is the acceptance of a deviation from a norm. Examples may be found in the field of engineering, society, and statistics. Tolerance levels define acceptance or rejection. In society, some people see tolerance as a strength while others perceive a weakness. Why?

Tolerance and intolerance are each other's opposites. However, they follow a different path. Tolerance is a rational choice while intolerance is an emotional choice. Hence, the outcome is very different. Tolerance results in acceptance and kindness while intolerance results in rejection and anger.

In Western culture, kindness is often a virtue and thus a strength. Anger is often a vice and thus a weakness. Based on a Dalai Lama quote, Asian culture largely follows Western culture: “In general I think that anger is a sign of weakness and tolerance a sign of strength”. In Asia, hiding negative emotions is generally a strength unlike Western countries.

This cultural aspect is different in Arab countries which see Western tolerance as a weakness. Similarly, the West views Arab intolerance as a weakness. Both cultures deem their own culture superior. Hence, it makes sense that the other culture is viewed as inferior and thus weak. Tolerance (or its lack thereof) is a mere representation of a culture.

Another explanation can be derived from my concept of the 7 Belief systems. Religion and Politics both belong to the Power domain of the 7 Belief systems. The Political Islam represents both Belief systems. Throughout human history, strength and power have been linked. Western arguments on tolerance are rooted in (Western) Philosophy which belongs to the Knowledge domain. This also explains some diverging Western views on tolerance: Knowledge vs Power.

A 3rd possible explanation is rooted in victim roles and the use of Reverse Psychology and Projection as a coping mechanism. In this context, the labels “strong” and “weak” are switched by the sender of the message. Several autocratic political leaders assume victim roles to unite their voters against their (imaginary) enemies. Also see my 18 February 2015 blog.

Engineering is about minimising tolerance. Nowadays, parts of Western societies appear to maximise tolerance. This causes friction within and between (Western) societies. The situation in Poland (eg, LGBTwomen) is an example of such friction (eg, EUJSTOR).

The answer whether tolerance is a strength or a weakness is a variable of time and location. Every culture has its own opinion. That opinion is affected by the Knowledge (Philosophy, Science, and the Truth) and the Power (Money, Politics, Religion) domain of the 7 Belief systems. Love, the 7th Belief system, usually supports tolerance.

Al Capone had an interesting view on tolerance: “Don't mistake my kindness for weakness. I am kind to everyone, but when someone is unkind to me, weak is not what you are going to remember about me.” This view also contains a lesson for some societies.

If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next (1998) by Manic Street Preachers

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