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Tolerance: The Main Idea

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Maria Mallari

Mrs. Larm


10 February 2016

Tolerance: The Main Idea

        In the essay “Tolerance”, E. M. Forster discusses about the spiritual quality that he believes will rebuild and maintain civilization, hence the name of the text, a virtue that expresses acceptance towards those regardless of appearance, opinion, race and religion. Over the course of the essay, he debates that love alone cannot quell the storms of conflict, since it is not possible to sustain this kind of affinity to people you don’t know on a personal level. Instead, he insists that we must have tolerance and have the will to deal with people properly even if you don’t agree with their opinions or the way they behave. The essayist states “Tolerance is a very dull virtue. It is boring. Unlike love, it has always had a bad press. It is negative. It merely means putting up with people, being able to stand things.” (Forster 484). In this passage, he asserts that tolerance is a blunt alternative to love, and is a positive attitude that most people do not have but need, as it preserves the differences we have with people and their lifestyles and culture. It is the self-government of one’s thoughts and actions, however, being tolerant isn’t always easy for some people because of contradicting ideologies. We have learned about the after effects from incidents in our history that the causes of intolerance have lead to severe persecution. He even implies, “There are two solutions. One of them is the Nazi solution. If you don’t like people, kill them, banish them, segregate them, and then strut up and down proclaiming that you are the salt of the truth” (486). These actions, ensued through fear and hatred, are due to lack of tolerance. Further emphasizing Forster’s point that we must learn to accept the diversity in our modern society and that tolerance an important virtue to have everyone get along smoothly in civilization. He believes that without it, peace and security isn’t possible and people will resort to force and aggression to get their way. Overall, tolerance has us to be aware and sensible of other people’s well being while having the ability to endure them without negativity.



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