Intolerance and Tolerance

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Intolerance is a common word thrown around often today, but what is intolerance? Intolerance is the “”unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect persons of a different social group, especially members of a minority group”” (“”””). Intolerance basically means discrimination. There are forms of right and wrong intolerance. For example, one may believe that religious, racial, and age intolerance is bad, and intolerance against abortion, drug use, and things against Christian morals is good. In today’s society, many types of intolerance are prevalent such as religious intolerance, racial intolerance, and age intolerance.

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A type of intolerance that is especially evident in the United States today is racism. “”Racism takes many forms and can happen in many places. It includes prejudice, discrimination or hatred directed at someone because of their colour, ethnicity or national origin”” (“”About Racism”” para 1). Racism has been prevalent for a long time. For example, in 1933-1945, the Holocaust took place, and millions of Jews were murdered because of their race. The Nazis had committed genocide against the Jews (“”Introduction to the Holocaust””).

Throughout history, another way one might see racism is slavery. “”By the mid-19th century, America’s westward expansion and the abolition movement provoked a great debate over slavery that would tear the nation apart in the bloody Civil War”” ( Editors para 1). The South was practicing slavery, and the North was against it. Supposedly, the Emancipation Proclamation that Abraham Lincoln issued ended slavery, but one can see how this is not entirely true.

Another example of racism that took place in the United States in the late 1800s was the segregation between whites and blacks. The whites and blacks were separated everywhere. For example, whites and African Americans had different schools, churches, bathrooms, parks, movie theaters, and even water fountains (Stonaker and Shepherd) ( Editors).

In the book, To Kill A Mockingbird, racism is a major theme. To Kill A Mockingbird was set in the small, southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, in the 1930s. In To Kill A Mockingbird, a white woman accused a black man, Tom Robinson, with rape. Tom was a honest, trustworthy, and hardworking individual. The woman, Mayella Ewell, who accused Tom of raping her was from a trashy, dirty, lying, low-class family.

The book is set around the trial. During the trial, the reader hears the witnesses speak and learn the true story as to what happened. Tom did not rape Mayella; she accused him to save her from her own embarrassment. Although everyone in the town knows Tom is not guilty, the jury just can not take a black man’s word over a white person’s word. Tom was charged with rape. It gives readers a great picture as to how poorly black people were treated at this time. This is so sad, but true as to how one can put someone else’s color of their skin in front of the truth.

At some point in the book, Atticus, the man who is defending Tom, mentions to his kids to not kill a mockingbird. He goes on further and calls it a sin to do so. Miss Maudie, their neighbor, agrees and says, “”Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.

That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”” (Lee 103). Here one can see the symbolism between Tom and a mockingbird. They both are innocent, harmless, and have not done anything wrong. To Kill A Mockingbird is a great book that one could recommend to anyone who enjoys an exciting narrative, but sad truth as to how racial intolerance was so strong in the South during this time (Lee).

Racism has come a long way from its evil past. Today, one will not see racism near as much as in the past. However, racism in certain parts of the United States is still alive. Sometimes, one may not be hired for a job because they are a different race. Many people dream of a world with no racism at all (“”About Racism””).

Another type of intolerance is religious. In the United States Constitution, the First Amendment is about religious freedom. “”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”” .

Many other countries are not blessed like the United States to be able to express their religious beliefs in public, much less at all. Certain countries will imprison and even kill those who are worshipping Christ. Today, North Korea and Afghanistan are two prominent examples. Even though Christians could be persecuted for worshipping, many times, they still worship Christ just in secret, and they hope and pray to not be caught. What faith they have (Zylstra).

Christians in the United States do not need to take the Bible for granted. One who lives in certain other countries may not have a Bible, and one who lives in the United States gets to have God’s Word every day. Many times in the United States one can have multiple copies of the Bible. Others can be killed if the government sees that they own the Bible. Missionaries are sent out to spread the Good News to others.

As Christians, one should obey the Great Commission found in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus commands in Matthew 28:19-20, “”Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age”” (ESV). It does not matter if the people they share the Gospel with live in another country, state, or in their own hometown. It is a necessity for God’s Word to be spread to others (Zylstra).

One might also say that age is an intolerance. Many times people are discriminated against because of their age. Sometimes it can be because someone is too old or too young, and others do not think that they can do anything because of their age. Often times, this can be seen in the workplace. For example, one could be fired, promoted to a better job, or demoted just because of the worker’s age (“”Facts About Age Discrimination””).

The Bible gives hope to people who are young. I Timothy 4:12 says, “”Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity”” (ESV). Just because one is a kid and little, they can still do things. In To Kill A Mockingbird, the story is narrated by Scout, a young girl. She is very intelligent and resembles the same qualities as her father, Atticus.

Atticus does not belittle his kids. He tells them how it is and talks to them as adults. Atticus does not show intolerance and does not give his kids special treatment because they are young. Scout does not even call Atticus “”dad”” or “”father””; she simply calls him his first name, Atticus. One could see this relationship as harsh, but it is quite the opposite. Although their relationship is different than a normal parent and kid’s relationship, Atticus and Scout’s relationship is filled with respect and love, and the reader sees their unique relationship grow stronger throughout the book (Lee).

Intolerance is a recurring act that has taken place in the world for centuries. Many people believe that intolerance is bad, but there are good forms of intolerance. One can use reliable resources to help them realize the dangers and benefits of intolerance. Reading the Bible and To Kill A Mockingbird can help one get a better grasp on different forms of intolerance. As one can see, intolerances such as racist, age, and religious, repeatedly appear in society today.

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Intolerance and Tolerance. (2020, May 03). Retrieved from