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What Tolerance Means to the World?

Respect and tolerance are liberating acts, whereby the differences of others are recognized as the same as our own and whereby the riches of another culture are taken as the wealth of all.”

– Irina Bokova, 21 March 2014

Globalization has blurred borders throughout the world. More people from different nations, cultures, religions and lifestyles are working together and living in the same neighbourhoods than ever before. Tolerance of each others’ differences is a very important key to keeping peace among co-workers and neighbours.

The importance of tolerance in society cannot be emphasized enough in a world where there is one place or another in a state of war. Tolerance’s importance is shown repeatedly in the news where historically taboo ways of life and belief systems are pushing the justice system and governments to recognize their right to exist publicly. Because people are travelling more and working in different countries, there is a strong need for information about the different cultures that exist. There need to be more schools, workplaces and governments that insist on and teach tolerance.

Youth for Tolerance, a group in Lebanon, one of the most diverse and violent countries in the world, had this to say about tolerance:

Tolerance, as we define it, refers to the skills we need to live together peacefully. In times of peace, people have a chance to prosper socially, economically and emotionally. Tolerance creates a society in which people can feel valued and respected, and in which there is room for every person, each with their own ideas, thoughts and dreams. This is why we believe tolerance is important: because it is an essential aspect of a healthy, liveable society. In fact, it is the only way in which a country as diverse as Lebanon (politically, religiously, economically) can function and use each and every difference to make its people thrive rather than suffer.”, a blog for social change had this to say about tolerance and why it should be taught to our children:

One of the most important tools a child needs in his or her social toolbox is the ability to be tolerant of others. The world is composed of people from different backgrounds who speak various languages, and follow diverse customs and religions. Any child, whether in the United States or elsewhere, will be exposed to someone who identifies with a faith that is not the same as their own. In today’s society, especially with how globalized the world has become, it is important for children to learn to accept others from an early age. Not only will children become morally strong, but in the future they will have an economic advantage when they respect others from around the world.”

A training program that taught tolerance was created by the Colorado University. An article written about tolerance by this program states:

The principles of coexistence and tolerance are important as bases for building mutually acceptable relationships between highly diverse communities within a larger society. If the integrative system is to work-that is, if it is to be able to hold a diverse community together as a single entity (for example, a nation state)-there must be a certain level of tolerance between the different religious, ethnic, and/or racial groups living in that state. In the absence of tolerance and willing co-existence, societies will be in perpetual conflict, with each side trying to somehow get rid of the other, either by forcing them to leave (as refugees), through genocide, or by one group completely dominating and de-humanizing the opposing group(s).”

Each one of these articles present the importance of tolerance and how it can be achieved in society. The importance of tolerance in society is the key to a better world and the only way to achieve true tolerance is through education and open-mindedness.

Education for tolerance should aim at countering influences that lead to fear and exclusion of others, and should help young people develop capacities for independent judgement, critical thinking and ethical reasoning. The diversity of our world’s many religions, languages, cultures and ethnicities is not a pretext for conflict, but is a treasure that enriches us all.

On the day of its fiftieth anniversary, 16 November 1995, UNESCO’s Member States adopted a Declaration of Principles on Tolerance. Among other things, the Declaration affirms that tolerance is neither indulgence nor indifference. It is respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance recognizes the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. People are naturally diverse; only tolerance can ensure the survival of mixed communities in every region of the globe.

Join us by educating our children to understand the importance of tolerance, because only then it will have a bigger impact in the future. Let’s all stand together and build a better world. Leave no one behind!

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