What is Active Tolerance?

“Everyone has a story to tell. We are here to let them tell it.”

A term sometimes heard around these parts is “active tolerance.” It is a concept that was developed on Thoughts on Liberty in its early years, intended to help guide conversation and provide debate etiquette. The active tolerance philosophy also helps shape our comment guidelines.

Active tolerance, in its essence, is about respect. It is about acknowledging different viewpoints and different life experiences to be as legitimate as your own. Tolerance is the tool which enables us, despite our different backgrounds, to learn from one another.

Active tolerance, performed correctly, requires that each individual actively attempts to understand viewpoints that are different his/her own. No one comes from the same place. No one has the same life experiences. We are all individuals, and, if we don’t share our experiences, we cannot learn from one another.

This philosophy is extended to all people of all ideologies and backgrounds, even those we find abhorrent.