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International Day For Tolerance

Updated on November 16, 2009

Intolerance Still Abounds

Who am I?
Who am I?

Everyone you know - your neighbors, co-workers, family members, club members, people at church, etc. - simply adores you and you adore them. You have no beefs. Everything is smooth going.

Does this sound like you? Unlikely.

So how do we manage to at least get along with these people - or at least tolerate them?

That is the significance of this day. On November 16, 1996, the U.N. General Assembly called for the observance of International Day for Tolerance.

Dictionary.com defines tolerance as "a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry."

Our own Declaration of Independence declared: “all men are created equal.”

Regardless of your personal belief of man's origins, we all started at the same place. We differ in color, faith, geography but we are all human beings. We bleed, get sick, celebrate, cry, mourn, breath, die, dance, get hungry - FEEL. Everyone has to work. Crops must be grown, clothes sold, goods manufactured. Most everyone has family. (We all know how this can be.) As the old adage states, 'you can pick your friends but not your family'. We all have problems.

Are you guilty of generalization? I don't like Iranians. Do you know them all? They are not representative of their leader any more than we are ours. I don't like Muslims. Why? Because of 9/11? If so, then you need to change to I don't like Islamic extremists. There is a big difference. Everyone is unique.

Unfortunately, race, religion, and country are not the only examples of intolerance. There is also discrimination in regards to class (poor), homeless and the disabled.

Nearly every person on the planet agrees that Adolf Hitler turned out to be a monster. He sought to destroy all the infirm, homosexuals, elderly and Jews. (Disclaimer: I'm NOT trivializing this issue. I'm just trying to show people it could happen again.) What is not obvious to them is they are behaving in the same manner - except for mass murder.

Disagree?

Look at the round-ups conducted by city governments in cities across America to get the homeless out of sight - especially if an important event is upcoming. What about Phoenix (AZ) ordering a church to stop serving meals to the homeless?

The national healthcare debate is another good example. People have tons of good reasons to oppose it. My personal favorite is “if everyone can see a doctor, we'll have to wait longer to get an appointment.” Residents of other countries have said they're appalled that everyone does not have the right to healthcare.

“Charity begins at home” is a phrase quoted many times throughout history.

Our doctors will go oversees and donate their time. Doctors Without Borders unless you live in the United States and do not have insurance. Suddenly there are all kinds of borders.

Rich Americans will send thousands to third-world countries to feed the poor while ignoring that man, woman or child who's trying to find food in a dumpster across the street.

Gay rights is another hot topic in the United States. Resolutions that had been passed are being overturned. Read the news. Homosexuals are not threatening anyone but they are being threatened. In the 1970s conservatives sought laws to allow discrimination against homosexuals and anyone who supported them.

Religion is a derisive issue worldwide. Each thinks his religion or lack thereof is right. As a result they're passionate and arguments are bound to ensue. The recent Fort Hood shootings bring this subject to the forefront. The alleged shooter claims he was tormented for being a Muslim, however, his classmates said that he caused the issues because he was so vocal. In one project he even praised suicide bombings. The issue of the Holocaust is a very contentious issue between the Jews and Catholics and Muslims.

How many times have you been in a store and either heard someone make a derogatory remark about someone in a wheelchair or thought it yourself? In this region, you cannot go into a store and not hear something. They think they own the store, why do they let people like that come in here, why don't they just stay home if they can't walk... I've heard it all.

If you are guilty of intolerance, think about this: YOU are one accident away from being uninsured, disabled and possibly even poor. I was.

People gripe about Americans who adopt oversees. Did you ever ask someone why they did it? It's because if you want to adopt a baby in the United States you must have funds for a college education for the child, his or her own bedroom, good credit and attend classes on how to deal with the child. Other than celebrities, I've known two families who were able to meet the criteria. It's better they bounce from foster home to foster home than to live with a middle-class loving family.

Work to change all of this intolerance or it will continue to change us.

“...with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of Peace." - Ephesians 4:1-3

"World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor -- it requires only that they live together with mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement." - John F. Kennedy

What steps do you take to improve intolerance in your own life? Have you be a victim? Start a discussion by making comments.




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