The dictionary meaning of ‘tolerance’ is ‘willingness to recognize and respect the beliefs, opinions and practices of others; particularly those that one disagrees with.’ And that of ‘intolerance’ is ‘unwillingness to recognize and respect differences in opinions, beliefs and practices.’ This ‘willingness’ and ‘unwillingness’ in both cases, obviously, is expressed through word and actions of people. Usually unwillingness to accept something expressed through civilized speech has to be considered within the limits of tolerance, even if one does not like it.
When we want to understand level of tolerance or intolerance in a society the issue becomes very complex. One, there are a range of practices, belief and behaviors which could be classifies into ‘social’, ‘political’, ‘religious’, etc.; and intolerance may be expressed towards some of them and not to others. On the other hand the agents could be seen as ‘individuals’, ‘communities’, ‘political parties’, ‘governments’…
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