The Most Dangerous Word

I think the most dangerous word right now is tolerance.  Not because the true definition of the word is bad, but because our culture is redefining the word.  In fact, tolerance is the new love.  It is much more acceptable to be considered tolerant than it is to be considered loving.


Our culture says we should tolerate others “no matter what”.  This is actually a very selfish position because it means you have no risk of rejection with anyone doing anything crazy (go ahead and do that if you want to because I am tolerant). Love on the other hand is a very risky thing, because when you love someone you are willing to risk the relationship by telling them they are on a dangerous course.


Here is how you can test this out:


Should you tolerate your child, or should you love them?

Should you tolerate your spouse, or should you love them?

Should you tolerate your friend, or should you love them?

Should you tolerate your neighbor, or should you love them?


Tolerance taken to the end means that you look the other way when a friend does drugs.  Love means you risk a relationship in order to warn them about the danger of drugs.


True love loves the unlovely. (think Mother Teresa)

People who make tolerance their guiding value can not tolerate those who are intolerant to their views.  (think anyone who calls you intolerant for not accepting their view yet claims everyone’s own view is true to them and should be accepted)


Bottom line, we should tolerate people with different views, but it shouldn’t stop us from disagreeing with them or trying to win them over to our view, or loving them enough to warn them.  Tolerance taken too far gives us permission not to care what happens to them. 

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10 Comments on “The Most Dangerous Word”

  1. Jill H. Says:

    My favorite article from you yet, Tom. Fantastic and very true.

  2. Hi Tom,
    Thanks for an incisive viewpoint. My wife just came home, and mentioned your Dad. I love him very much and felt to find his website. A long way from Melb Australia where i am tapping this keyboard and a long time since I first heard Dad in Charlotte 1986. It is no surprise to me that his son has a relevant and pursuasive gift too. Let me encourage you in what you write. Your family has a wonderful heritage to carry forward.

  3. Tom Ziglar Says:

    Jamie – thank you for your encouraging words! I am blessed indeed to be the son of Zig Ziglar. If you want to find out more about what is up with Dad you can check out Thanks again for your kind words.

  4. Jay Peroni Says:

    We often worry too much about offending people. The problem is no matter what you say, it will always offend someone. Tolerance is way out of control! Stand for what you believe in. Love others, respect them, that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate everything and everyone if it contradicts your faith.

    Jay Peroni, CFP
    Author of The Faith-Based Millionaire

  5. Debbie H Says:

    I agree. Tolerance in this day and age is use to mean nothing is wrong or it is not politically correct. When you stand for what you believe in you may not have many friends, but the ones you have will be true.

  6. Tom Ziglar Says:

    Debbie – if you stand up for what you believe in and do it with Love, then the friends you loose will only be the intolerant ones!

  7. Tom Ziglar Says:

    Jay – Well said. Stand up for your faith, and do it with love.

  8. Kevin Miller Says:

    Tom – this is an article that should be on the front of every newspaper. It’s a profound message for our time. I often talk about the fact that the only thing society is ok with ‘standing for…’ is to stand for nothing. As you said, only tolerance is acceptable. And that dilutes everything.

    What’s odd is it’s total falacy. The truth is that people are NOT tolerant. Not across the board. The mantra is to tolerate anything that could require accountability and a backbone. Tolerate ‘sin.’

    But if you stand for something, nobody will tolerate that. If I decide to be gay and fight for gay rights, the world screams that everyone must be tolerant and accept it. If I say I’m a Christian and believe in Christ, all the ‘tolerant’ people raise up in arms to squash me.

    Christ wasn’t tolerate. But He did love like crazy. And that’s where the mark has been missed. We take a stand then don’t love those that oppose us. Something I continually need to work on, even as I live in what I believe.

    Thanks again Tom, I’m going to send this message from you to a few audiences. Thanks for standing.

  9. Archie Says:

    This reminds me of my mother who when she was running her own business said in a newspaper article that the weakest personality trait was to be ‘nice’. Being nice was for her being tolerant. So faults would be overlooked, bad behaviour ignored all because you wanted to be’nice’.

    Better loving intolerance and healthy limits than unchecked mediocrity!

  10. Frans Utt Says:


    This is so true!

    We need to get it translated and send it to all media in the world.

    Here in The Netherlands we always are referred to as being very Tolerant and indeed this is now our biggest problem. Others now do not respect the Dutch culture and our values.

    I would like to share this message with so many people!

    Please say hi to Dad!

    Frans Utt
    The Netherlands

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