Paradox of Tolerance

Tolerance, by definition, is the range of conditions an organism can withstand. Depending on the context, tolerance can illustrate a biological, ecological, mathematical, and a variety of other “-ical” ways of adapting to a state.

When studying human behavior, the idea of tolerance has to do with the capacity of a person to withstand certain conditions and it varies from individual to individual. Behavioral psychology is not predictable like hard sciences. Simply said, people don’t follow equations. There is human error, free choice - and with this, the intentional or unintentional decision to be a walking paradox.

Humans are highly complex organisms who are in constant flux; from moment to moment we have a range of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that affect each other and may not always be sensical. (Have you ever had a feeling about a feeling, or a thought about a thought?) Therefore, the relative nature of tolerance is subject to the ever-changing environment in an unpredictable way.

The effect emotions have on tolerance can invoke the primal feeling of fear; it is during this time when we as humans can become the exact thing we are defending. This is called the paradox of tolerance, when a tolerant person holds antagonistic views towards intolerance, and hence is intolerant of it. This is a sophisticated complex that we have all engaged in at some point, due to our amorphic perception of reality. We try to make sense of things that don’t make sense

So, what can we do?

It’s ironic how the most complex problems can have the simplest solutions.

1.     Listen

2.     Aim for understanding-try simply repeating another person’s statement, verbatim, then ask them…is this what you said?

3.     Be emotionally honest- “I feel angry.” (that’s it) Chances are you have more in common than you think…you are probably both angry.

4.     Don’t blame- we all respond differently to our experiences and environment

The mind of man is capable of anything…