Another term that parasites brought into the conversation is tolerance. The word tolerance is used in various types of situations, changing its meaning accordingly. I got curious about the nuances in the contexts as it seems that this seemingly positive notion has its dark side.
Tolerance is often described as a phenomenon when the body no longer responds to a drug as it did before. The problem that arises in this process, is that higher and higher quantities of the drug are needed to achieve the desired effects. I use drug here but substitute the word for any other object or occurrence one feels strong urge to have. Interesting that if the dose is increased, the process of building tolerance accelerates. Simply put, the more a desire is satisfied, the less fulfilment the result brings. It becomes even more interesting, not only the effect decreases when actual contact with the source of desire happens, but the body is also conditioned to respond to environmental cues. It is experimentally proven that even when people only see a drug being prepared for them, physiological response in the body start to occur. So when we build-up tolerance, sooner or later, we not only stop responding to the drug but also the environment becomes a factor to decreases the workings. Once that happens new drug and new environment is needed to cure the disease. We need to keep on inventing new ways to withstand whatever we want to build tolerance for.
The term tolerance is commonly used in the social realm too. It is seen as a virtue essential to freedom, acceptance of the behaviour, values and beliefs that differ from one's own. It is associated with psychological resilience and as we know resilience in its essence is a very fixed quality. Tolerance refers to endurance meaning that it always requires resistance and certain levels of effort. When effort or force is applied, most of the times sacrifices and trade offs have to be made. Giving away something doesn’t come without stress and fear of loss.
Sounds rather paradoxical doesn’t it? Such a positive quality of being tolerant ironically turns into a set of mixed psychological responses and eventually transforms into intolerance. A snake that bites its tail, a vicious circle that can’t be broken. The necessity to step out of the circle remains a matter of urgency in the world where we are living together, intertwined and inseparable. Tolerance is not enough. It gives a temporary relief of pain or pleasure so we can feel stronger and make better decisions. But it will always stop working. We need to be very clear about it and not confuse its temporary effectiveness with the actual solution. Even more so relying on tolerance as the only tool for building understanding can be dangerous. If we keep on insisting, increasing the amount of drug more and more, eventually it will lead to drastic effects. As a desire and inability for its satisfaction grows, pressure rises, distress and harm take over. Let’s not push and see it for what it is, bits of support and endurance while walking a road towards understanding.