12/19/2009

Teaching Tolerance Is NOT the Answer

Liane Kupferberg Carter has an interesting post at Huffington entitled "Those Kids."  It, like the one by Mike Elk, has not really generated discussion and very few comments at Huffington Post. That's not a real surprise considering there's no hint of vaccines to be found around them. What is a surprise is that after 4 days they are still up on the Living page and accessible, while Stagliano's abysmal piece on Offit as the pope was barely up at all --and yet still has comments trickling in. Of course, it's devolved to four or five dedicated people, a couple on each of the vaccine.

Carter writes about her experiences with youth who volunteer for the weekend sports program for children with disabilities. She writes about her frustration with the lack of real commitment that happens, the inability for many of these youth to see these children as equals instead of a requirement, a necessary check-off. She writes about tolerance and laments that what she wants for her son is acceptance.

Tolerance is inadequate at best. Tolerance is unacceptable. Tolerance is still inequality.

Acceptance and appreciation of people, their innate value, that is and should be the goal.

Where I would quibble some with Carter's piece is at the end where she writes: "Can one really teach empathy? I'm not sure."

Empathy can be taught, better be taught. Half the problem with acceptance of those with differences is that such a poor job of being empathetic is taught by society in general. When bullies are applauded, where domination of the strong over the week is celebrated, how are those who are different or quirky or challenged being accepted going to happen?

Coupled with teaching empathy and acceptance must be a zero tolerance policy towards the bullying and belittling of those who are different. Empathy comes with understanding, and so our children and society at large must be taught to understand innate differences, to understand where others are coming from, what guides and shapes their behaviors.

It is a huge job ahead of us, but respect for infinite diversity is the only way to get past the tolerance problem and to true acceptance.

1 comment:

kathleen said...

I believe that parenting could do an awful lot in the way of teaching respect..Children no matter who they are-want to please their parents..they model them..