Tolerance Day

What is International Tolerance Day and why do we celebrate it? 

In an effort to encourage equality and diversity across the world, the United Nations introduced The International Day for Tolerance in 1996.   

On this November 16th take a moment to think back and recall the last time you had a different perspective from one of your friends. When’s the last time you’ve had the opportunity to learn something about someone else’s culture? We’re betting it wasn’t that long ago.  

While most of us practice tolerance and inclusion daily as we celebrate diversity in our various communities, International Tolerance Day was established to encourage mindfulness and faith in human rights. 

But what is tolerance? Let’s start off with a simple definition. 

tol·er·ance (noun) the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with 

We can appreciate and understand the underlying definition, but what is its significance? Tolerance is important because it can help provide for a more cohesive, peaceful society. People who are free to express themselves freely and peacefully without fear of persecution are more likely to live happier lives as functional members of society.  

Since the dawn of man, people have lived in tribes, and various tribes have created different customs and traditions. Over the centuries, humans learned that in order to survive they must have tolerance for others whether it was in trade, bargaining for goods and services, or even staying safe from a common enemy.    

As a result, building a tolerant society is still alive and well in America today. Think about it, whether it’s who you choose to love, vote for, pray to, or even which NFL team you cheer for on Sunday afternoon, most Americans arguably have developed a sense of multi-cultural awareness and have respect for the differences of others in one fashion or another.  

Ways to celebrate Tolerance Day: 

  • Spend time to learn about different cultures and people around the world. Be curious.  
  • Volunteer with a community organization that promotes cultural understanding and acceptance. 
  • Help spread awareness and education on the importance of tolerance through Equal Employment Opportunities and Affirmative Action Plans 
  • Promote diversity and inclusion in your conversations at work and in your day-to-day life. One way to do this is to begin a dialogue with someone with a differing viewpoint, you’ll likely find you have more in common than you expected. 


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