Social Question

DominicX's avatar

What does it mean to be "accepting"?

Asked by DominicX (28808points) August 12th, 2011

I’ve heard numerous claims that people on this often claim to be “accepting” and that this is problematic when they reveal their own personal prejudices and judgments.

I was never under the impression that to be “accepting” it meant you were entirely free of judgments and prejudices. To me those are just natural human inclinations and I’d have a hard time believing someone if they claimed they were free of such things.

So what exactly does it mean to be accepting, to you? Also, what is the difference between “acceptance” and “tolerance”?

I am NOT going to argue against anyone in this thread. This is just for me personally; I want to hear what others have to say.

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14 Answers

tranquilsea's avatar

Accepting + judging does not seem to be very accepting. To me, either you accept (which doesn’t mean endorse) or you judge or reject.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Tolerance as used in today’s PC society means to reserve judgement.
Acceptance means just that.You either accept it or not.
I prefer to be discerning. I decide what I will tolerate and what I will accept. ;)

Cruiser's avatar

Accepting is embracing things as how they are and not necessarily as you want them to be. I feel it can invoke positive and negative feelings and emotions to be accepting of something or someone for what it/they really is/are.

MilkyWay's avatar

To me accepting is not to reject or discriminate or judge something and just get on with it.

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t think accepting is a good term. When someone says that, I get the feeling they’re saying “It’s wrong, but I don’t have a real problem with it”.

I don’t think anything should have to be said. I don’t think about gay people, for example. They’re just people and there’s nothing to be said. But I guess because of the prevalence of ignorance in our society, one would have to prove they’re not a bigot of any kind? And that is just the word some happen to use to show they don’t care about who you are, except for your character of course.

tinyfaery's avatar

I’d say tolerating something means you judge that thing negatively, but realize that that thing exists and others might not agree with you so you don’t actively try to stop or change that thing, you just let it happen.

Accepting means that you either have a positive or even neutral judgment about a thing and you though that thing might not have any connection to you, you recognize it as good or neutral for others.

I tolerate religious fudamentalism. I accept those who try to live as Jesus would.

I tolerate those who have psychological issues, but I am accepting of those who do something to help those issues.

tinyfaery's avatar

There is no thought a human can think without judgment.

Aster's avatar

Accepting: fine with me! nothing bothers me! it’s cool.
Tolerance: almost fine with me! gritting my teeth and doing my best to accept . Acceptance with eyes rolling in head, possibly blood pressure rises.

rebbel's avatar

Acceptance for me is acknowledgement.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar’s shortest definition for acceptance is approval. Their shortest definition for tolerance is freedom from bigotry.

I was a bit surprised by the first one. I thought accepting/acceptance would leave room for disagreement, but it doesn’t. Tolerance does that.

I will be more careful how I use the terms in the future.

Kardamom's avatar

For me “acceptance” means letting things exist how they are, without trying to change them. I might approve or disapprove of certain things that I accept.

I accept the fact that my sister in law does not like to socialize with our family. I don’t like it, but since I can’t change it and she’s not doing it to be mean (although it does hurt us) I won’t try to change her.

I accept that most people in the United States are Christians. I do not believe in religion and sometimes religion causes problems for me, I accept that everyone has to follow their own beliefs (unless those beliefs are being used to harm others).

I accept the fact that most people eat meat. For me it’s wrong on an ethical level, but I completely understand that most people have very valid reasons for not believing the way I do.

I accept the fact that there are probably millions of people with mental illnesses in the world that are kind, and decent and loving people. But for me, I don’t have the capacity to take the risk (by dating someone) that me and my family will be (again) subjected to the horrific treatment that was doled out to us by specific people who had certain mental illnesses.

For me “tolerance” means allowing certain things to exist that might be controversial, icky or or completely out of my realm of understanding or even wrong in my own personal opinion, but may not be thought of in those ways to other people, and are not likely to harm me (even if I don’t like the concept) and because we live in a country where laws and freedom are extremely important for everyone’s benefit, then we all have to tolerate certain things that we don’t like or want for our own lives to get tolerance from other people in society to do the icky or silly, yet harmless, things that we want to do.

I tolerate the religious right’s ability to get up and shout on TV that they think abortion is murder. They have freedom of speech just like I do (even though I think that what they are spouting is often very wrong and very hateful and even intolerant, considering that abortion is legal).

I tolerate the fact that people cheat on their spouses and have multiple sexual partners. You would cause more problems if you tried to outlaw infidelity and lying. I don’t like it, but I tolerate it, because the alternative is worse.

I tolerate the fact that people are allowed, by law, to have as many children as they want. Because the law states that you cannot forcibly deny anyone (men or women) their right to reproduce. The reason for this, I believe, is because once you start denying people the right to reproduce you start sliding down the slippery slope of deciding which people get that right and which people do not. And it also might turn around the other direction, so that certain people would be forced go go through with an unwanted pregnancy.

I also believe that even though people say that they aren’t judgemental, each and everyone of us makes judgements about people, statements, ideas, situations and things that they see and hear and read, every single day and every single second. As soon as we are born, we start getting information and that information is filtered to us by our parents, our specific surroundings and circumstances and we make observations and judgements about things (wrong or right) simply to survive. We also learn to have preferences that are based upon what we’ve experienced good and bad.

Here’s a classic example. You come out of a theater at night, your car is parked way down the street, it’s dark and you are alone and you didn’t ask anyone to escort you to your car. First of all, why didn’t you ask someone to escort you? You have made some sort of a judgement about yourself, your own ability to keep yourself safe, you’ve made a judgement based upon your perception of the safety of the area and your perception of the likelihood of having something bad happen to you while you’re walking to your car. So then you start walking and you hear another person approaching you from behind. Depending upon your own set of experiences, you might be scared, you might think it’s someone that will give you a little bit of company or some degree of protection, or you might not think much about it at all. But you will have some sort of opinion about it, good, bad or nuetral. Then you see a dark figure pop out from a dark alleyway up in the distance, in the area where you need to go. You might be scared and start to sweat and shake, or you might hope that it is a policeman, or you might not think anything other than that there is another person there. How you feel or react is going to be based upon your past experiences and you are making a judgement. Now let’s say the person turns out to be a little old lady. Then you might have a sense of relief, or think nothing at all, or you might want to go up and walk with her to give her some protection. Again, everyone of us will be making some sort of judgement about the little old lady. Then what if the person coming out of the alleyway is a big tall man dressed very differently than from how you or your male friends dress. You might be afraid and want to cross the street, you might not think anything of it, or you might want to go back the way you came, or you might want to go up to him and bum a smoke. Each and every one of us, would make a series of judgements about all of these situations, which may be completely harmless, but we will have some sort of reaction, one way or the other, and most of us would probably have slightly different reactions, depending upon our age, our sex, our socio economic background, our familiarity with this particular area, our wisdom and our own personal experiences that were similar to this one.

Mariah's avatar

I think maybe tolerance can be accompanied by any various attitude, but is simply the state of not negatively interfering with another’s life, not trying to prevent a person from doing anything. That doesn’t mean the person thinks others’ actions are okay. The sentence “I tolerate you” doesn’t exacly scream warm fuzzy feelings to me.

Acceptance is tolerance paired with a belief that what others are doing is okay, having no moral qualms about another’s actions, even if the acceptor wouldn’t do those things himself. I think.


To me, accepting is more than just tolerating. It means not only being able to live “side by side” with someone or something you once did not tolerate, but also “allowing” that person or that thing to be a part of your world. It is an acknowledgment, a concession. You still don’t have to agree or side with it, but you concede in its existence and allow it into your world.

rooeytoo's avatar

To me, this describes acceptance, “JUST FOR TODAY I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my LUCK as it comes and fit myself to it.”

Tolerance means pretty much the same thing but it is not carried out with the same ease, some part of me is fighting against it so it is more like work!

Good question.

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