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 10 2011: Thank you for the translation - it was not necessary, 'cause I'm quite OK in English, but can't deny that was very kind of you.

    Your theses are unarguable. Building a multicultural society should be based on repect of privacy, and those seven goals you told about. Applied to the concept of US being a place to leave to for all the refugees and prosecuted people, it gives us a statement like "There's no better price to buy the freedom, than giving others a chance to be free, too".
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      Sep 10 2011: Thank you for a creative question plus kind, accommodating reactions to my study and responses. (‘Kindness’ and ‘accommodation’ are good candidates to replace ‘respect’.)
      For most of my life, I assumed the majority of Americans are of We the People, the 1787 Founders unique gift toward world peace. However, I have been reading and writing about it since November, 2006, in one essay, "How 'Democracy' Undermines the United States of America," and before that in letters-to-the-editor of my local newspaper. I think most Americans are not of We the People; they don’t even know the Preamble, so most of them fall among “the people,” toward whom the cost of governance is directed and sometimes force applied.
      I have come to think most Americans hold the work of the 1774 Founders, namely the Declaration of Independence (1776), trumps the Preamble to the US Constitution. For example, there is no federal holiday for Constitution Day (September 17), but the 4th of July is the most celebrated of all holidays.
      Consequently, most Americans don't get the Preamble's order of goals: unity, justice, and the rest. Most Americans skip the other seven goals to focus on their particular freedom! Freedom!
      Thus, the Preamble’s promises to humankind lie fallow. I’d like to change that. I want a social revolution starting September 16, 2011, this year’s US Constitution Day. You helped.

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