TED Conversations

Phillip Beaver

Citizen, Humankind


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For the TED Community, "tolerance" is Insufficient: I propose "respect."

While “intolerance” is useful, its antonym is not. No one brooks tolerance.
In other words, each person is intolerant of tolerance: When it comes to his opinions, he requires respect.
The TED challenge is for members to offer respect for other opinion, and therefore, tolerance is insufficient.
Synonyms for “tolerance” include patience, sufferance, forbearance; liberality, impartiality, open-mindedness. The moment I recognize the other party is patient, suffering, or forbearing, my side of the dialogue changes to the weather, local traffic, the latest natural disaster, or such. If I detect any of the behaviors to the right of the semicolon, I become cautious and wait for a pertinent question by the other party.
When I meet someone, the most precious characteristic to me about them is their opinion and how they established it. However, I feel I have no right to ask questions about what is so precious to me: their opinion and background—often a very private treasure. Holding opinion private seems, in itself, an expression of opinion.
Therefore, in personal dialogue, I express my opinion and wait for the other party’s curiosity as to how I established it. In public forum, I share the opinion and background then wait for response.
One of the greatest acts of respect is to accept termination of the dialogue by the other party. Only they know why they stopped sharing. Perhaps they are locked in profound reflection. Each person is on a path of maturing psychologically, and each path is unique in time, direction, and depth.
What are the arguments for TED members to employ the word “tolerance” when “respect” is available?


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  • Sep 7 2011: Last week I encountered a situation at my officee,an elderly man was upset over a remark saying ...' how could that young man reply me in that tone of language saying that he is so mch older than him...he said I am not young anymore.
    Thats what struck me..does age matter or what has changed..Im confused.you can help Sir.
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      Sep 7 2011: I do not know the truth, but my opinion is that age does not matter. The first party will sense inner peace in proportion to his ability to respond with tolerance or respect or appreciation or love. Equally, the receiving party will sense inner peace in proportion to his ability to return tolerance or respect or appreciation or love, regardless of the treatment he received. Only abuse or harm should be rebuked. See the dialogue with Mr. Levy for my lesson about appreciation.
      When I was a child, I was taught, “Kill them with kindness.” It seemed to me in conflict with what I thought. I searched for the source and think I found it in Romans 12:20. Even so, I prefer my way:
      Treat an offender with love.
      In so doing, you will show how you would like to be treated.

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