Strive for acceptance, not tolerance

People should seek common ground and accept different views instead of tolerating someone else’s opinions


Libby Mullican, JAG editor-in-chief

The past four years have not been a particularly good time for me and my family in Oklahoma. Ever since then-candidate Donald Trump started campaigning, our family grew divided. When I was in Oklahoma at that time, I grew anxious because I was afraid my mom and I would get caught up in a political debate with the rest of my family. I love my family and I know they love me, but it got so bad that we couldn’t go out to dinner because we would cause a scene.

As the political climate worsens and our nation becomes more divided, it may seem like we may never be able to view each other the same as we once did. The problem? The political divide runs so deep that people lose sight of each other’s humanity. We can’t begin to fix or understand why we are a nation divided until we begin to listen.

That is where “One Small Step” comes to play. “One Small Step” is a project put on by StoryCorps in which the team records participants of different political backgrounds. According to StoryCorps, this experiment is designed to counteract political divides and help people remember their shared humanity.

To promote its official kickoff, Storycorps shared a video with audio from one of the first “One Small Step” interviews between a liberal daughter and her conservative father. After hearing the intensity in their voices as they discussed their stances, and then them finally sharing they loved each other despite their conflicting views, it made me think about my family.

It wasn’t until this past year when my family and I finally came to the realization that we need to accept each other and not just tolerate each other. In the grand scheme of things, tolerating someone is like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound: a temporary fix. On the flip side, acceptance is acknowledging that you might not agree with someone, but you still respect and see them as a person. I’ll admit that I was one of the stubborn ones, but at the end of the day, we are family and the time we share together is precious.

In the end, it is ultimately your decision to listen and find the commonalities, rather than the differences, between you and someone else’s stances. “One Small Step” is an example of how total strangers can come together and be reminded of the other’s humanity despite conflicting political views. As we gather around the table for the holiday season, we need to remember to strive for acceptance not tolerance because, ultimately, family is stronger than any political stance. Even if it takes a couple tries or even a couple of years, we are all capable of taking one small step to accept that someone is still human and deserves to be treated as such.

This nationwide experiment is still going on as of Tuesday, Dec. 4. People are encouraged to participate by sending in audio clips, stopping by a Storybooth or visiting the mobile tour.

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