Guidance on Tolerance, Forgiveness and Understanding



The dictionary tells us that to tolerate means to put up with, to treat fairly and to accept people who are different from ourselves. Throughout society there is a lot of intolerance of various sorts, for example the intolerance of the young for the old and vice versa. There is intolerance of one race for another or for any race other than one’s own. This divides society quite unnecessarily. Tolerance is the key to peace between families, society and nations. We must try to see the point of view of other people. When we do this, the feelings of resentment towards the other person will usually evaporate. Peace is created through tolerance.


It is sometimes hard for people to forgive others. They feel that their refusal to forgive is a punishment to the person who has offended them. They want to continue to punish that person. They do not realise that through their lack of forgiveness they create tensions in their own bodies, which can result in illness. Unforgiving people may find that their negative emotions turn in on themselves. They may suffer from various body complaints as the tension which builds up in the body takes its effect on the person who holds on to resentments. When we harden our hearts against others, we are actually blocking the energy flow in our own bodies and this has an effect on both our minds and our bodies. It’s much healthier to forgive. We free the other person and ourselves too, from the grip of negative emotions. This does not mean that we have to approve of bad things. In forgiving we are allowing others to make mistakes.

We also need to be able to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we have made, and to allow ourselves to start with a ‘clean sheet’. It is the only way forward. The past is gone and no amount of self-punishment is going to undo what has been done. Forgive and let go, and start again.


Sometimes it can be difficult to agree with what someone else says or does. Not until we ‘put ourselves in the other person’s shoes’, can we say that we have attempted truly to understand the situation. We may decide that we cannot agree with their point of view or actions, but at least we will have given them a fair hearing.