I accept you.

This does not mean that I necessarily love you, like you, want to engage in conversation with you, desire to meet you, will listen to you, agree with you, will fight for you, or want your company. I accept you for who you are. I will take your self-definition as you relate it for the truth. When that changes, as it does for everyone to varying degrees over their lives, I will still accept you.

That does not mean that I will not judge or even pre-judge you based on how you live, or that I will not scrutinise your self-definitions, or wonder why you have made the choices you have, nor does it mean that I will share your opinions, join your cause, or advocate for you. Accepting you does not exempt me from pitting my skills and energies against your chosen causes. I simply accept you.

What “acceptance” means to me is that I perceive a common humanity between us, and that I desire for you that which I desire for myself. For us, I desire: respect for our liberty and freedom, fairness and courtesy in all transactions, the ability to eat safe foods and drink clean water and enjoy adequate housing, the conditions to feel safe alone and in groups and crowds and throngs, the free pursuance of personal beliefs and independent thought, the right to be healthy, to be free to express ourselves honestly, freedom to defend ourselves and others, freedom to love consensually, to be able to live authentically, and mutual acceptance.

Acceptance is not tolerance. I tolerate those beliefs you express and deeds that you display which are in opposition to my own, so long as they do no harm to me or mine. I tolerate a certain amount of discomfort or annoyance you may cause. I tolerate such impositions because of my acceptance of you; however, whereas my acceptance is unconditional and unwavering, my tolerance is provisional and often of short duration.

How great of me to be so magnanimous? How egotistical for me to relate it? Yep, but I’m being honest. Mere tolerance for people is not good enough; we must accept their humanity to be human. We must seek our commonalities as a basis from which to found relationships as allies or adversaries. Anything less dooms our endeavours to failure. So, fighting for tolerance is not a lofty personal goal, it is not enough to be tolerated, we must be accepted as being as wonderfully fallible as everyone else and save tolerance for our words, actions, and associations.