RUSHVILLE — We have a two and a half year old grandson that doesn’t have a lot of tolerance for his six month old sister. I don’t suppose that’s an unusual situation, and we’re convinced he will warm up to her presence eventually. I probably wasn’t as tolerant of my younger siblings as I should or could have been in my younger days. That’s why I’m not convinced tolerance is something we are born with. I think it has to be taught and learned.
I grew up with seven brothers and sisters, so the tolerance we didn’t learn for each other on our own, we were taught out of necessity by our parents. I also learned a lot about tolerance from my parents when my old buddy Stinky Wilmont would come over to our house for a visit. Stinky quite often behaved outside of the accepted social norms that Mom and Dad had established for the immediate family, but my parents seemed to tolerate worse behavior from him than they would from us. I figured out later that sometimes toleration is influenced by expectations. I guess Mom expected better behavior out of her offspring, so she tolerated less bad behavior.
You never know where or when tolerance is going to show up or run out. Sometimes we seem to be more tolerant of questionable behavior from people we don’t know than we are of those we know. I imagine most parents at some time have said “I’d never tolerate that from my kids!” upon witnessing something outrageous from somebody else’s child, but in reality I think most of us are more tolerant and forgiving of family, even when they don’t live up to our expectations.
Being of the Libertarian persuasion, I tend to be more tolerant of other people’s social behavior than perhaps some of my Republican and Democratic cohorts might be. I don’t see the need for a lot of laws regulating peaceful interaction and dealings between consenting adults. That’s not to say that I approve of all of their peaceful interactions and dealings. It just means as long as they are not forcing their opinions and actions on anybody else, I can tolerate it.