Can We Truly be Tolerant of Others?
What is tolerance? The Cambridge Dictionary defines tolerance as “the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with”. In your life how tolerant are you of the existence of other opinions and behaviours that you may dislike or disagree with? I know for me there are two main areas of intolerance, belittling behaviour towards others and societies attempts to ensure conformity with what is deemed to be societal rights and wrongs, (essentially disallowing individuality and difference). A great way to understand what is acceptable or not acceptable within the society and country you live in is to look at the laws proposed and the laws passed, whilst always being mindful of the who hold the power to pass and repeal the laws and the interests they may have.
The most extreme cases of intolerance is of course terrorism but daily I see intolerance occur due the colour of peoples skin, the decision to have another baby (especially when they are on benefits), peoples choice of clothes, the language they use and even their accent, where they come from (north, south or even another county or country). Intolerance is all around us. Looking at the definition of intolerance can it be taken in isolation or do other factors need to be considered.
So why do we have these intolerances? Simple we learn them and we can unlearn them. We learn them through a one-off experience, it is taught to us through parents, family, friends, the education system or the church, it is hammered into us through news and social media who will taint a whole ethnic origin due to the actions of the few. The current propaganda is that all Muslims are bad and are terrorists. THIS IS NOT THE CASE! Thirty Thousand Muslims protested against Terrorism and Extremism during the 50TH Annual three-day convention in Hampshire. His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, told the attendees (according to the MailOnline) “Let it be clear that they [the Terrorist and Extremists] are not practising Islam, rather it seems as though they have invented their own hate-filled and poisonous religion” [Emphasis Added]
Based on the definition of tolerance, the non-acceptance of terrorist and extremist views could also be argued to be intolerant of those peoples opinions and beliefs. A degree of societal influences, accepted norms, standards and human rights therefore need to be considered. Is the behaviour and opinion acceptable within today’s local and worldwide society. With Terrorism and Extremism it is not, is it not acceptable to deny people their basic human rights and subject them to slavery of any type. It is not acceptable to murder others that may be seen as ‘unclean’, Hitler tried and failed. In this context, the definition of tolerance should come with an astrix* except where extreme and fundamentalist opinions are held with may cause harm to others.
In comparisons where intolerance is just because someone chooses to have more children then you believe is acceptable, have a piercing or a tattoo that you disapprove of or simply due to their sex or the colour of their skin, this is simply intolerant. This is more often than not an unfounded generalist view ofother people who are different to you or you do not understand. In these instances one should consider setting aside their misconceptions and be opendminded to the opinions and beliefs ofothers. You never know what you might learn and the friends you may make along the way.
As you are aware, I feel strongly about tolerance and compassion and whole heartedly beelived that it beginds with you. We should aim to be tolerant of and compassionate towards others. However, this is more difficult when extremism and fundamenatilsm is involved, yes they have a different view and their intolerance of others is shown via their actions. What we really have to question is are their views acceptable, more often than not NO!