Thursday, September 27, 2012

COMMENTARY>>Committed to tolerance

By Col. Archie Frye
189th Airlift Wing commander

The subject today is tolerance. Tolerance grows through education and experience. With tolerance in your leadership, peer ship and follower ship tool box, you’ll add to an open environment where many different opinions can be shared, resulting in a much more effective team, where everyone is welcome to contribute to the mission.

What is tolerance? One of America’s most famous persons said this: “The highest result of education is tolerance.”

– Helen Keller

This quote describes tolerance from a choice point of view:

“Tolerance is the positive and cordial effort to understand another’s beliefs, practices, and habits without necessarily sharing or accepting them.”

– Joshua Liebman

The great majority of people try to do what they think is right. Over my long career, rarely does that great majority fully agree on what is right, on any given subject. However, good things always happen because we listen to each other and are presented with an opportunity to learn a possible better way. We gain knowledge from others on a subject we thought we completely knew. That said, without tolerating another’s ideas, you will never learn more than you already know.

In the Air Force, we have entire functions dedicated to ensuring our Airmen follow our commitment to tolerate all races, religions, and gender. While we may not agree with everything others believe to be right. We are obligated to tolerate what they believe to be right, provided it’s legal, moral, fair and safe. We recruit and retain people from all walks of life, from every region of our country and from many different nations around this world.

Image how ineffective we’d be if only one behavior and belief was tolerated. There would be no communication, no capability and no growth as an Air Force, due to no growth in new ideas from our Airmen. So do yourself a favor and listen to something you don’t believe in. It’s OK to still not believe in it. Only this time… Try not to say you’re wrong or that’s crazy. Instead, try saying, that’s an interesting opinion, wow, I never tried to do it that way…etc. Surprisingly, the other person may ask, how do you do that or what do you think? You’ll rapidly see more good comes when we don’t unload our preconceived ideas or agendas on others, but we share our knowledge so we all benefit. Finally, please don’t offer to fix someone else’s beliefs and opinions. Doing so will hurt our Air Force, which hurts our country.

Thank you for making our Air Force the greatest institution in the world.

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