When we are born, we do not think of our color, race, religion, or nationality. All we care about is giving and receiving love. As kids, all we want is to connect with others and practice our humanity.
However, as we grow older, we are programmed to believe that being different matters more than being human. We start believing everything we are fed to the point that we no longer see our humanity. All we see are the labels we are told to memorize.
He is black then he must be a criminal.
She’s Jew so she must be a Zionist.
He is Muslim so he is a terrorist.
She is white so she must be privileged.
And, the list goes on and on. There is no limit to how far we are willing to go when it comes to labeling ourselves and others. That is why it is crucial that we learn about respecting diversity and how to be tolerant towards other beliefs, practices, and opinions.
However, to do so, we need to delve deeper into what tolerance really is and how we can practice it.
What is tolerance?
While there is no single definition of what tolerance really is, it still acts as the basis of democracy and mutual respect. In short, tolerance is the idea of respecting and accepting one another completely and without any discrimination or bias. However, even as the world continues to advocate for peace and democracy, tolerance is still not universally and truly practiced. On the contrary, discrimination, xenophobia, racism, and prejudice are on the rise.
"Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human." - UNESCO
We live in a time when we are more connected than ever before, and yet we are slowly but surely drifting further away from our humane connection. Intolerance is continuously on the rise with conflicts and extremism against different races and religions taking place frequently. In fact, it was only a couple of months ago that 4 Muslim men were killed in Albuquerque, leaving the Muslim community feeling unsafe and afraid. Other vulnerable groups, like black or Hispanic people have also been on the receiving end of discrimination and violence.
Systemic racism against people of #AfricanDescent continues to inflict deep harm. Piecemeal progress is not enough. New @UN report calls for transformative change to dismantle deep-rooted systems perpetuating racial discrimination: https://t.co/K5Oi150TTn#FightRacism pic.twitter.com/cEgNEZtAz9— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) September 30, 2022
The magnitude of intolerance and hate that our world is facing is troubling. This past Sunday, November 13th, a bomb blast rocked Istanbul, killing eight people and injuring 81 others, as of writing, which comes to show the amount of intolerance and violence crippling our world.
How can we practice tolerance?
An integral part of combating intolerance and breaking down the ugliness that comes with it includes raising awareness and advocating for it. In 1995, the UN General Assembly declared that November 16 will be the International Day for Tolerance as a way to raise awareness and recognize that the way for different communities and cultures to coexist peacefully is through practicing tolerance.
As leading organizations continue to preach and push for tolerance to become an integral part of our lives, individuals and communities also have a responsibility to come together and integrate tolerance into their behavior.
Here are some ways that can help you practice tolerance and help make it a universal practice:
- Do some inner work
So many things start with us. That is why we all need to look inside ourselves to see why we might feel intolerant towards a certain group of people. Ask yourself where this sense of discomfort is coming from and if there is some kind of personal history behind it.
By doing so, you are coming to terms with the fact that some of the intolerance we fall into is actually just things we were programmed to believe.
Learning how to think for yourself, and forming your own opinion without hurting others is a key step in learning how to become tolerant.
- Respect that we are all different
Learn to accept that we are all different. There are tens of different nationalities, races, and religions across the globe, and it is imperative that we learn how to accept and respect one another so that we can coexist.
Just because you do not believe in something does not mean it is wrong. As long as no one is harmed, every person has the right to practice their own beliefs and values.
- Remember that we are all the same
While we might be different on the outside, we are all the same on the inside. Because below all the layers of skin, religion, and beliefs, we are all humans who want to feel loved and like we belong somewhere.
Remember that what binds us together is our humanity and connection to one another, and this connection will eventually die if we do not work on creating peace and tolerance around it.
- Be empathetic
Empathy can go a long way.
Many of the things we are judged for and discriminated against are things that are out of our control. We do not choose our race, nationality, or culture, and being punished for things that are out of our control is not right.
Therefore, empathizing with others and realizing that we are all trying to feel like we belong can help you respect others and learn how to be more peaceful and accepting.
- Speak up when necessary
Many of us can be tolerant, and accept others. But if we choose to actively stay quiet when someone is being intolerant and hateful, we are just as guilty as they are.
It is imperative that we learn that staying silent against the oppression of others means that we are not truly tolerant and accepting. Speaking up against intolerance, and calling people out for being racist is essential to ensure that tolerance becomes a universal practice that everyone preaches and believes in.
Ultimately, in a utopian world, tolerance is a universal ideology that becomes a part of our instinct. However, that is far from the reality we live in. Therefore, it is on us to start practicing tolerance in our daily lives so that we can start creating real change in our world.
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