The Road to Tolerance and Understanding | Commentaries

In all parts of the world, an important discussion has begun in response to the discord and turbulence of the 2016 US Presidential campaign and some postelection actions.1 The tensions and stressors that have generated a global wave of worry and uncertainty have created a need to ensure tolerance and understanding in our generation, in our children, and in future generations. We hope that an awareness of the need for enhanced tolerance and understanding of other people and other people’s beliefs can help unite us and begin a journey of healing. We address this commentary to the entire child and adolescent health community. As pediatricians, we wish to discuss steps we can all take to be more welcoming, tolerant, and understanding of those who may see things differently from us. This includes fellow pediatricians and other pediatric health professionals whose opinions may not be the same as their colleagues but who share a common commitment to ensuring a bright future for all children and adolescents.

We believe tolerance and understanding are intertwined in the path toward human progress. In all health care settings and in all policy discussions, both tolerance and understanding are essential. We define tolerance as the acceptance of another person, another viewpoint, or another behavior that is different from our own. Tolerance expands our ability to be open to new ideas, to people who have different viewpoints, or to people who are different from ourselves. Tolerance for those who are different from us or disagree with us allows us to recognize challenges in our own health care settings and to strive to improve upon those challenges. Understanding is the ability to walk in other people’s shoes and to comprehend their needs, perspectives, and desires. Understanding also represents the ability to distinguish fact from fiction, science from fantasy, and to recognize the impact of our own actions. Understanding is the foundation for solutions. A journey toward…

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