Living in the UK – The 5 British Values

Years ago when I applied to stay in the UK with the expiration of my visa I had to take a ‘Living in the UK’ test as part of my application. This test has come up a lot recently in social situations with various British people. When I mention I’ve taken this test many laugh and ask what’s on the test. When I explain the scope of the test – history, royalty, invasions, inventions, politics, laws, values, famous people, customs, etc – they say they’d probably fail it. I think the same thing if I had to take the test in Canada to become a Canadian citizen.

One question I ask Brits from that test is: What are the British values? Hint, there are 5.

Few know the answer. Spoiler alert! They are:

  • Democracy
  • The rule of law
  • Individual liberty
  • Mutual respect
  • Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs

Overall, these are pretty good principles to live by. Except I’ve been contemplating the tolerance one. Do we just want to tolerate those who are different than us? On the surface, you could say yes. And would you want to be tolerated? I know I’d like more than just being tolerated.

Tolerate comes from the Latin word for ‘endurance.’ Collins and Miriam-Webster dictionaries main definition of tolerance is “the ability to bear something painful or unpleasant” and “capacity to endure pain or hardship.”

I hope the use of the word tolerance in terms of British values means more than enduring the unpleasantness of others. The Cambridge English dictionary mentions “willingness to accept behaviour and beliefs that are different from your own,”

Maybe I’d prefer the word ACCEPT rather than TOLERATE – I want to be accepted, even if you don’t agree with me. So if I want acceptance, I need to accept others – even if they have different faiths and beliefs than me.

What are you tolerating that would be better if you accepted it?