Lifestyle

Tolerance: Innate or learnt?

Tolerance: Innate or learnt?

With the UAE observing 2019 as the Year of Tolerance, people are actively trying to be more accepting. However, it is interesting to explore whether tolerance is an innate quality or do we develop it through life experiences? Gulf News readers discuss

Tolerance is nurtured

Formative years are crucial to instil tolerance

Tolerance in many ways could be viewed as being both an attitude resulting from nature and nurture. To me, another way of referring to tolerance is cultural relativism. For many people, ethnocentrism is what they are taught to believe throughout their formative years, as culture is associated with central components to identity such as religion and nationality. In the same way, tolerance can be taught during that crucial time in a person’s life as well. Xenophobia and the idea that one’s culture is superior to others is a mindset that could be changed through exposure and interaction to other worldviews, cultures, and religions. That being said, this interaction might have an opposite effect of intensifying ethnocentrism if someone does not have the will to accept or listen to alternative view or keep an open mind to beliefs against their own. Considering all the above, I personally believe tolerance is nurtured, because in sociology, it is known that humans have a strong desire to be connected to an ‘in-group’. If one stays exclusively within their in-group, they are most likely going to be hostile to foreign concepts, beliefs, and even individuals.

I personally believe tolerance is nurtured...

- Amna Abudyak

From Ms Amna Abudyak

International relations student based in Sharjah

A skill

People develop the ability to be accepting

Tolerance is frequently mistaken for a trait rather than a skill. Perhaps because we associate tolerance with other personality traits, I personally always connect tolerance with agreeableness, empathy, unselfishness and cooperation. This, I recently discovered, is why many others and I would believe that tolerance is unteachable, the reality is, it’s a skill that is key to a harmonious and less problematic world. It being a skill is what makes it a way of life people can learn, easily or not depends on age, level of education, cultural background, upbringing and the most importantly the type of personality.

Tolerance is frequently mistaken for a trait rather than a skill

- Sarra Wissam Hamid

You might say subconsciously everyone does possesses a certain level of tolerance, I say that’s not true. Since most if not all conflicts have occurred on a playground that’s devoid of tolerance, teaching this skill should be encouraged and heavily supported. Globalisation is growing exponentially and can’t lead to good without the presence of tolerance.

Had we as a society not witnessed educational institutions and corporations attempt and succeed to teach tolerance, you would find a large population answering this question with: “No, you can’t teach tolerance it’s a trait carried through your genes.”

Sarra Wissam Hamid

Pupil based in Dubai

Shaping society

There should be no room for intolerance

According to research, tolerance is actually a learnt trait people develop through time and it is not something one is born with. People can learn it through their guardians or any other means that they are exposed to.

On the other hand, sometimes we are exposed to other people’s bias to growing up that we can internalise and learn. As we grow older and wiser, we need to evaluate our behaviour and let go of any intolerant feelings towards people. We need to actively surround ourselves with people who are accepting of others and are open-minded.

We need to actively surround ourselves with people who are accepting of others and are open-minded

- Hassan Ahmad

I have personally interacted with people who were not the most accepting and tolerant of individuals, however, through time, they learnt better. We need to start being intolerant of intolerance. We need to start expressing how accepting others should be the norm and people who are intolerant should be the odd ones out. We have a long way to go towards that change but this is how societal norms are formed.

From Mr Hassan Ahmad

Business consultant based in Sharjah

Poll results

Is tolerance innate or learnt behaviour?

Innate: 30%

Learnt: 70%

Have your say

Is society getting increasingly tolerant?