helen keller

Tolerance is that each act of toleration must circumscribe the range of behaviour everybody must accept, thereby drawing a line for what cannot be tolerated . .. And as long as this line is drawn in an authoritarian manner, that is, unilaterally, the stigma of arbitrary exclusion remains inscribed in toleration.”‘ There is no tolerance without intolerance; indeed, in some cases, intolerance is what makes tolerance possible. For instance, if tolerated, “the Nazi regime” and “the political ideologist who combats the liberal state” would undermine the tolerant society. In these cases, the condition of possibility of tolerance is intolerance or a limit to tolerance. Similarly, we must know what education means, before we indulge in the discussion-“tolerance is the highest result of education”.


Education is, simply said, acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. People generally confuse between the terms education and literacy. So, literacy is just an ability to read, write, and use arithmetic. A literate person may not be called an educated person. Gandhi ji once said, “Literacy is not an end of education or even the beginning. All literate men may not be truly educated while the ‘illiterate rural masses’ at times ay cultivate refined sensitivity and progressiveness that ‘true education’ is supposed to bring out.”

Some studies have shown that one of the major creators of tolerance is higher education.

helen keller

On examination, whether more education increased tolerance even in the case where the individual disliked the group in question. They found a strong correlation between years of education and tolerance. The more years of education an individual experienced, the more tolerant the individual became. Let us now consider some of the world famous peacemakers. Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Fethullah Gülen. What do these people have in common?

Let’s take a look at their education. We can draw an educational paradigm for peace from what we have found in common among these otherwise very different people—who have different races, ethnicities, religions, economic class and levels of formal schooling. What I see as common threads among these peacemakers are, they all were highly educated, even if it was self-education, all were open to everything, not focused on a narrow source of learning, they were all original critical thinkers and they were all spiritual people. So the thing to basically focus is on, all these peacemakers did not stay over the injustices and raised their voices against the evil in the society. Hence, it proves that education does lead to tolerance. The question is how? There are several hypotheses regarding this; cognitive theory, contact theory etc. On the basic level what these theories refer is when a person comes in contact with a wide range of people, the thought process of mind changes. Even when you don’t literally meet people, but read books. It opens a door to a new enlightened world. That helps you see the true face of the world. Its all about knowing the truth.

Kahlil Gibran quoted in his book The Prophet,

“No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge. If you can’t have direct knowledge can education make up the difference? “

My argument is going to be affirmative. It is not a perfect substitute for direct experience, but reading about other cultures from unbiased sources, or better yet from sources within another culture itself, can go a long way. As deep down, we know everything and education helps us achieve it. Tolerance is the real reason behind the peaceful world we live in and is brought to us by the educationist directly or indirectly.

Helen Keller, who gave this statement, her story is imbibed in our memory since our childhood days. From the movies (for e.g. – the miracle maker)and books (for e.g.- the story of my life), we get to know she herself wasn’t a very tolerant child. She indeed was a bright child but due to her physical disabilities, she found herself stuck and bound. In the rage to overcome, to be free, she fought with the people around her. She had no compassion for others, but jealousy and anger. She hurt everyone and, tried to take revenge. In the words of Shelley, “If winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”  Helen Keller’s life changes too. With the advent of her teacher Anne Sullivan, she becomes tolerant and goes on to do wonders. The only reason behind the change, the tolerance, was the education she received from her teacher. And education liberates one’s soul.

All the stories that we hear and the ones discussed here shows that when a person learns hey about things, they become more understanding of the society and the problems existing in the world. Instead of complaining and whining, they try and bring out positive changes. Even when they are not tolerating, they are paving the path for tolerance.

Let’s talk about Gandhi Ji, he is a symbol of tolerance and peace. Though he is known for his peace-loving ways that do not mean he did not fight against the Britishers. He did not tolerate the injustices forced upon the poor Indian people, but rather than taking up his peaceful ways as a weakness, he made it his strength. Making him famous as, “Mahatma”. This was a result of the brilliant education he had received, along with his passion and sense of duty for his country. Being educated gave him an upper hand. As a lawyer, he was well aware of the laws, of the country. This helped him take the right decision at the right time. Considering, if he weren’t educated, it’s probable that this would have definitely hindered his decision-making skills. This entails that education helps in making correct choices in difficult situations.


Aleksander Solzhenitsyn said,

“It’s a universal law—intolerance is the first sign of inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility”

Author: Sonalika Chaturvedi