We are all equally present in this reality. Accepting this is tolerance. The opposite of tolerance is delusion. The idea that you can exclude something because you don’t like it, or the idea that you can ridicule someone because they seem to have a deficit you do not.
All of us are to some degree “retarded”. No one has time or energy enough in their life to learn everything, or to develop every skill equally. Neither is anyone evenly equipped to handle every issue they might encounter. All who could be judged will be found wanting, or as the Bible puts it, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Tolerance is akin to God’s grace. Knowing that everyone falls short and accepting that in peace. If someone is really angry with you, but has done nothing to harm you, tolerance is accepting that their current emotional state is “angry”, and giving them enough respect to let them be as they are for the moment. There is no fix. You cannot fix anyone or the world itself. Can you be intolerant without having the notion you can fix something? Can you be intolerant without the idea that somehow you know better? Do you know for a fact you know better? And if you do not, then how can you make the comparisons that let you laugh at someone else or ridicule them?
An example would be to compare yourself to a “disabled” group. To say, “I’m retarded.” or “I must be blind.” Unless you are these things, you have no idea if you have anything in common with them at all. The blind person might very well notice the thing you “overlook”, because you have developed negligent habits that have nothing to do with ability or disability. I have known blind people who are very observant. They can tell your mood by the noise your body movements make.
One of my friends worked with learning disabled children, and one of them told him, “I may be retarded, but I’m not stupid.” That points out something important. Very often the disadvantaged people have to be aware of something the able come to neglect. The same applies to foreign cultures. As unenlightened as they might seem, they probably have certain attitudes of awareness and responsibility that one of the more “advanced” cultures suffer for the lack of. As the old poem summarizes, for want of a nail the kingdom was lost.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.