Acceptance, tolerance, and hope — among the top virtues can you have, right?
Disagreeing with what the mainstream considers virtues may sound bizarre, but I’ll show you their shortcomings and how you can do better.
While I prefer them to nonstop rejection, intolerance, and hopelessness, and agree they help society remain civil, these practices show gaping holes in your life if you hold them as high ideals.
Each suffers from the same complacent shortcoming — suggesting you stay satisfied with less than you could.
What do acceptance, tolerance, and hope mean?
A couple examples illustrate the terms’ shortcomings.
To accept something means you don’t like it. If you found a winning lottery ticket worth hundreds of millions of dollars, would you accept it? No, you’d be overjoyed.
To tolerate something means you don’t like it too. If a professional massage therapist offered you a free hour-long massage, would you tolerate it? No, you’d love it.
Or if you didn’t like something and could get rid of it, all else being equal, would you accept or tolerate it? No, you’d get rid of it.
To hope for something means you can’t make it happen on your own. If you could protect a loved one from harm, would you hope they’d do okay? No, you’d protect them from harm.
These terms imply misunderstanding and powerlessness, two things you don’t want in your life. Powerlessness because you only resort to them with things you don’t like when you can’t do anything about them. Misunderstanding because if you can’t do anything about them it means you don’t realize their value.
If you really don’t like something and think it makes the world worse, don’t accept or tolerate it. Do something about it.
Don’t like racism? Don’t accept or tolerate it. Do something about it. If you don’t think you can do anything about it, figure out how you can. If you can create an outcome, don’t hope for it. Create it.
Don’t like gravity? As far as I know, you can’t do anything about it, so you might as well learn to enjoy it, not merely accept or tolerate it. Who tolerates gravity? It sounds ridiculous. Learn to celebrate it. Or would you prefer hurtling into space along with our atmosphere.
You can treat anything like racism or gravity. I don’t think you’ll find something you can’t change and can’t celebrate. The best I can come up with is death, but it’s helping me live the best life I can. For that matter, I haven’t died yet and by the time I do, I won’t be around to feel bad about it.
How you can do better
If you find yourself merely accepting or tolerating something, realize one of two things. Either you don’t realize its value or you can’t do anything about it. Then do one of two things. Either learn its value and celebrate it or figure out how to do something about it and act.
Either way you improve your life.
I’ve found anything I can learn to accept or tolerate and can’t change I can learn to celebrate. As long as someone somewhere values something and it brings them joy, I can too. If some way exists I can change it, I can do so.
As for hope, you hope for things when you can’t do anything about them. I’ll pick expectation over hope any day. When you hope, you generally doubt the outcome you want will happen. Otherwise you wouldn’t hope. You don’t hope you can eat dinner. You know you can. If you hope for an outcome, you can do better than hoping by acting to improve its chances.
Acceptance, tolerance, and hope signal powerlessness and lack of understanding. If you sense yourself accepting or tolerating something or hoping for an outcome, learn to celebrate it if you can’t change it or do something about it if you can.