Why Being Tolerant Isn’t A Good Thing


– a fair, objective and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own

– the act or capacity of enduring

Living in Singapore, we’ve always been asked to be tolerant of one another as we live in a multi-cultural, multi-religious society but is being tolerant sufficient?

I’ve been tolerant before but I realised that being tolerant isn’t the way to go for us living in Singapore simply because there’ll come a time when someone will just ‘blow up’.

Living in a multi-cultural, multi-religious society like Singapore is much akin to being in a relationship. Like an individual, each religious group and race have their own unique set of values and practices which may not be approving for another religious group or race.

Tolerating Who

Tolerating Who

It would perhaps be like how you’re in a relationship but you don’t like how open your partner is when speaking with others and how physically comfortable your partner can be with others, yet you tolerate it because you’ve been told, that’s just how he/she is when you first got to know them.

However, you disapprove of such behaviour because it runs contrary to your own principles and you have never tried to find out the reason why your partner is as such. You are contented enough with the information that you have and preferred not to ask knowing that the truth might not be something that would please your ears.

Unfortunately, such behaviour can only be tolerated up till a certain limit and when the behaviour observes a slight change; from speaking openly and being comfortable physically with others to kissing one another on the cheeks, you’d then blow up and perhaps say, “I’ve had enough of this! I’ve tolerated your behaviour long enough and this is too much for me to take”.

Tolerance Graph

Tolerance Graph

What then happens after such a thing?

It’s always blamed on two main things which are the two main factors that always causes disputes, Miscommunication and Misunderstanding. For these 2 to occur, it usually involves a lady hence, the term ‘Mis’.




Not quite as much as I’d love to admit but certainly, blow-ups can be prevented through ‘Effective Communication’ and ‘Understanding’.

Effective Communication

Effective Communication

How then is these two achieved?

To achieve the two, the parties involved must first enter into the relationship or partnership with an ‘Open Mind’ and ‘Open Heart’ because only when these two are present, can one put aside judgements and be willing to listen more than to speak.

However, most people refuse to do as such because they enter into the relationship with their own set of values and practices which they hold strongly on to and are scared of changes. They get defensive when their values and practices are at the center of attention or criticized.

These individuals don’t realize the impact of what can be done when they are able to discuss matters of such sensitivity openly. A greater understanding between the parties involved would have taken place and there would be a greater acceptance of another’s values and practices. Not only that, you could also by then, be able to explain the relevance of the values and practices of the other.

Here, in Singapore, MM Lee’s recent comments have shown that being tolerant could never work in Singapore’s society in the long run. The only major success that has worked in Singapore which has led to it’s citizens being tolerant is how people here were timid of the authorities and found it troublesome to kick up a fuss, preferring to sweep such sensitive issues under the carpet.

Tolerating Differences

Tolerating Differences

Unfortunately, our grassroot leaders and Members of Parliament whom we voted in, are so disconnected from the issues affecting the people on the ground that they dismiss that there’s actually an issue. MPs and Ministers continue to call for tolerance because they do not wish to be occupied with issues that would prevent them from pushing ahead with policies that would see citizens coughing up more money for them and instead they leave it to the religious and racial groups to manage such issues.

Thus, the growth of Inter Religious Organisation (IRO).

Sadly, the IRO doesn’t have a part to play in education nor does the Ministry of Education see the IRO as being able to play an integral role in education and in society, or perhaps, it refuses to because when people of all races and religion in the country are able to understand one another and are more willing to help another, what good will then do for those who only see themselves as the ‘elite’.

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