Opinion: Society Needs to Move Beyond "Tolerance" to "Acceptance"

August 29, 2004

Source: The Star


On August 29, 2004 The Star ran an anonymous opinion piece that argued for the value of acceptance over mere "tolerance" in Malaysian society. The writer argues, "We have come far, but not far enough. We are still ensconced in the paradigm of tolerance. Tolerance comes from the root word 'tolerate,' which simply means 'to allow without prohibition, to permit.' Or, to make it sound really bad, 'to put up with.' Is that what we have done all these years to make this country a success? Have we done nothing but 'put up with each other'? In many cases, that is true... We have not truly accepted each others’ religion and race. For how can we accept each other without understanding each other?... To move forward, we need to shift to a new way of thinking and of behaving toward one another. We need to move to acceptance. Yes! Racial and religious acceptance. And not just that. We need to move toward social and personal acceptance – acceptance of each other in every form and fashion.  One can argue that we should not be concerned with mere semantics. This, however, is not just about using the correct word, but more about changing the attitudes and perceptions of people... It is time that we forget the differences of race, religion and colour, and look at our similarities as earthlings, as humans, as people of a globalised world and finally, as Malaysians. We should no longer just simply tolerate, but rather, accept each other for the individuals that we are."