The Need for Tolerance
‘The Need for Tolerance’
By Tony DeLorger © 2010
In a society where fear has been an ever-present influence, we have to some extent become intolerant of everything that is foreign or not understood. With fear as our guide we can so easily barricade ourselves behind an impenetrable wall, in an attempt to mentally protect ourselves against the unknown. In this way our fear has led us to mistrust anything or anyone that is not of our own belief. These judgements have done nothing but propagate the fear of race, religion and creed, and have ultimately segregated the world further and further.
As technology has brought the opportunity of interaction and solidarity, fear has parted us, caused us to create division and develop mistrust. We are overwhelmed with visions of crime, of religious hatred and political conflict, and as a consequence form an opinion of particular religions, cultures or politics. But in reality, what we see is only one representation of the truth, one account of reality through one viewpoint. One cannot form an honest opinion after witnessing but a few criminals, or extremists acting out some twisted agenda. Surely we cannot judge an entire race, the devotees of any religion, or a political ideal from the actions of a few lunatics? But this is exactly what is happening.
Those who have survived the Second World War brought back with them a certain view of their enemy. For example, in New Guinea and various parts of South-East Asia many allied prisoners of war experienced the cruelty of their Japanese captors and understandably returned home with an innate hatred for the Asian race. This intolerance was often handed down to their children, thus promoting racism. The Holocaust is another circumstance that has produced racial hatred. These examples are extreme and one can understand that such circumstances would require much time to heal the wounds. But there is a lesson here, and we should be learning from it. Hatred and war create nothing but death and misery, and judging a few and blaming the race, religion or whatever simply continues the misery.
Difference does not mean better or worse, right or wrong, and should be at least respected. Freedom to pursue what life has to offer is surely what all human races should be afforded. To segregate, judge and limit someone else’s ideals is to accept it being done in return, as a consequence. Tolerance is therefore the answer to a balanced and peaceful world solution. Dividing the world in any way will continue to create disharmony. It is time that we, each one of us, take responsibility for our own views and not adhere to what the group dictates. Tolerance is in our hearts and I believe, is the way toward peaceful solutions, not only to our communities’ social problems, but also toward a harmonious world.
Intolerance is an effortless road. It is so easy to believe and agree to the negative, to be an ally to your own kind and run with the crowd. Haven’t we heard this before?
-‘Those damned Asians are taking over the country!’
-‘Bloody South Africans, they’re so arrogant!’
-‘Blacks? They’re all drunks! Can’t trust em!’
-‘He’s a rude pig! He must be French!’
These kinds of statements are so flippantly used that they can become a part of our thinking, and unconsciously we can become part of the problem. Before spurting out the next cliche we should perhaps look at where it has come from and decide that we would rather be a part of the solution and not propagate this kind of racism. Change must come from the ground up and it is our responsibility to initiate and to begin a new positive cycle.
One trigger for our intolerance is stress. We live in a fast paced world, where much is expected of us and the pressures of daily life are far greater than they used to be. Because of this, many of us live on the edge, ready to snap at any point of conflict. Behaviour on the road has become an ugly and insidious problem that demonstrates this reality. We have become intolerant of aged drivers, young drivers, Volvo drivers or just about anyone who does something to annoy us on the road. Of course, we ourselves do, have done or will do, all that these drivers do to enrage us, but at the time that is not so clear. I have always adhered to the principle that if you are courteous to other drivers, you’ll get the same consideration back. For me this works fine and rarely do I come across rage on the roads. Mind you there are always exceptions.
So I suggest that we practice tolerance on the road as an exercise. If we can keep our cool there, I think that we will be on our way to accepting tolerance. As they say, a journey begins with a single step.