Tolerance: Virtue with a downside

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Tolerance: Virtue with a downside
Tolerance: Virtue with a downside

Virtue with a dark side

Hardly a public discussion that doesn't call for more tolerance for those who think differently. But it is also an ambiguous and exhausting virtue. What are your limits?

Tolerance is on everyone's lips. There is hardly a public discussion that does not call for more tolerance, warn of increasing intolerance or point out the outstanding importance of tolerance for democracy and the rule of law. Tolerance alone enables social justice and peace among peoples, secures pluralism and human dignity.

So tolerance is the virtue of our time. But it is also an ambiguous, Janus-faced virtue. Some think that the needs and interests of even the smallest minorities must be taken into account in society; others feel that certain attitudes and actions should not be tolerated under any circumstances. In his 2019 book "Tolerance: Simply Difficult," former German President Joachim Gauck promotes an understanding of ultraconservatives and an expanded tolerance towards the right. Tolerance, according to Gauck, can also mean enduring unreasonable demands. On the other hand, the NRW Ministry of the Interior would like to take action without tolerance against excessive motorcades of Turkish or Arab wedding communities. US President Donald Trump also proclaimed "zero tolerance" for criminal aliens and illegal immigrants, earning a lot of applause from his supporters. So what do we really want or have to expect of ourselves in society?

In its "Declaration of Principles of Tolerance" adopted in 1995, UNESCO defined tolerance as …

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