– Vivian Chieh & Fahreen Naz
International Day for Tolerance is a time for people to learn about respecting and recognizing the rights and beliefs of other people. It is also a time of reflection and debate on the adverse effects of intolerance. Live discussions and debates take place across the world on this day, focusing on how various forms of injustice, oppression, racism, and unfair discrimination negatively impact society.
Across the world, societies are undergoing a profound transformation, just as globalization is accelerating and is opening vast opportunities for dialogue and exchange. It is also raising new challenges, sharpened by inequality and poverty, enduring conflicts and movements of people. We see today the rise of exclusive politics and discourses of division. We see diversity rejected as a source of weakness.
In this context, tolerance must be more than indifference and the passive acceptance of others. Perceiving tolerance as an act of liberation, whereby the differences of others get accepted as the same as our own, is significant. It means respecting the great diversity of humanity based on human rights, reaching out to others across new bridges of dialogue, and standing up against all forms of intolerance, including racism, discrimination, and hatred. All cultures are different, but humanity is a single community, sharing values, a past, and a future. The dissimilarity of races is a strength for all societies, creativity, and innovation.
Intolerance around the world today is a struggle for peace, which calls for new policies that respect diversity and pluralism based on human rights. Importantly, this calls on each one of us to act for tolerance in our own lives, to understand others, and to strengthen the concept of one humanity through understanding, dialogue, and knowledge.
We exert our support to the calling by defending our cultural diversities and heritage from pillaging and attacks, seeking to prevent violent extremism through education, freedom of expression, and media literacy to empower young women and men, and work to strengthen dialogue between cultures and religions.
Tolerance is an act of humanity, which must be nurtured and enacted in our lives every day to rejoice in the diversity that makes us strong and the values that bring us together.
Tolerance is respect, acceptance, and appreciation of the rich diversity of our cultures, our forms of expression, and ways of being human.