The Question of Tolerance

By Ruiqi Wei

 Where does tolerance end?

“Do you know that the harder thing to do and the right thing to do are usually the same thing? Nothing that has meaning is easy. ‘Easy’ doesn’t enter into grown-up life.

There are so many moments throughout these years when I often found myself trapped in embarrassment that caused me great discomfort that hurt too much for me to ignore– these moments always wounded me as a teen vulnerable to the outside to an extent that sometimes I just simply thought rather than those who were different than me, I should stay with “my people” and keep the contact with ‘the other’ minimum.

Very unfortunately, although I always expected all these insults should be kept on a personal level, the reality is quite brothering since all of these moments of embarrassment revolve around my identity. Or more specifically, the prejudice against my identity.

Let’s get down to reality.

As a Chinese Mainlander who is educated outside of the people’s republic of china, I have came across so many situations overseas where I was either referred by very derogatory terms used to describe Chinese such XXXX, or asked very offensive questions such as XXXXX.

I expected these to be all, but very unfortunately, this is still very far from the whole story.

Even within the boarders of PRC, some so-called ‘Chinese’ across straits still communicated me in a very offensive way merely due to my mainland identity.

Well, since there are already so many macro-aggressions for me as a 19-year-old teen to bear, it might be too cruel to have me suffering in micro-aggressions.

How I want to say that I never felt any micro-aggression ever since I was born. But simply I just cannot. I cannot just simply immerse myself in my fancy fabricated world pretending the things that indeed happened never seem to have happened.

If I am asked to write about all the micro aggressions that I have identified throughout these years I spent outside PRC as a very sensitive young teen, I might be able to write you more than ten pages, not to exaggerate.

And these aggressions, both on micro and macro levels, bother not only me and those who are from the same background with me, but also everyone else who is different than me since there must be some occasions where we get to be recognized as “others”, where the otherness is felt and targeted at.

Can we tolerate? Sure we can. Although it is uncomfortable, it is still not a big deal since no physical hurt at all for these aggressions that happened. But should we tolerate? I really want to say that we should, for the sake of peace. We should appreciate the diversity of perspectives. We should respect the way others see us since the ways people are educated always differ, leading to different perspectives which should all be understood.

But the question is, to what extent should we tolerate?

We should tolerate, to an extent that, we reach the end of tolerance.

So where is the end of tolerance?

The end of tolerance is not conflicts nor is it peace.

The end of tolerance is always changes. It is a condition for positive peace to prosper. If not changes, it should at least be the prospect for things to change for better.

We should start through efforts to change the system on all levels: turn the dividers into connectors by finding what tears our community apart and fixing the broken strings.

Living in a world marked by ultra-connectivity across the borders of nation-states, thanks to the angel of globalization combined with great advancement of technology, everyone (outside the peripheral world) gets to benefit a lot in terms of economic convenience and greater material affluence.

But what about the inevitable westernization accompanied by globalization?

Western norms all in a sudden following the industrial revolution became the only norm for the whole world leaving out the differences that once distinguished culture to culture.

Here and now so suddenly became the same world, at least on the surface.

The diversity of cultures is gradually being erased to less and less since the standards of the developed world are recognized as the privileged and the less-developed ones should . Democracy as the only legitimate norm of ruling is promoted worldwide after the collapse of Soviet Union.

And It comes as natural for us to alienate and condemn everything heterodox.

The world comes closer, but there is only less and less cultural, ideological, and political tolerance.

Should not we tolerate?

Tolerance brings us changes.