Today is 16th November – International Day of Tolerance
In the present world, everyone is in a hurry. This hurriedness and lack of empathy towards others are breeding intolerance in society. Can we say that we are slowly losing the significance of tolerance in this busy world?
We can relate tolerance to a shirt’s price tag as it shows how valuable we actually are. It plays an indispensable role in every stage of our lives, during childhood, teenage, or adult age. Being tolerant is essential for a fruitful life.
In 1996, the UN General Assembly (by resolution 51/95) invited UN Member States to observe the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November. This action followed up on the United Nations Year for Tolerance, 1995, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 at the initiative of UNESCO, as outlined in the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance and Follow-up Plan of Action for the Year.
Meaning Of Tolerance
Tolerance means the ability to respect others’ feelings and their opinions on a specific issue, despite having conflicting views of our own. A tolerant person listens to the opinions of others patiently and tries to understand their perspective. While at the same time, they put across their opinions or ideas without any conflict. Tolerance thus means accepting everyone’s opinions without conflicting.
Intolerant people often get angry on conflicting issues and destroy the tranquility of the place. They make a situation worse and get bad outcomes. Such people also lack relationship values and often seem to fight over trivial issues.
On the other hand, tolerant person puts themselves in the shoes of others and try to understand their perspective and respect their feelings and opinions. They try to solve the situation by honoring the views of both sides and getting positive outcomes. A tolerant person thus has a healthy and effective relationship with everyone.
Ours is a culturally diverse society. We should tolerate and respect people of all religions, castes, and gender wholeheartedly. Even if we have different living habits, cultures, and environments, we should love, understand, and respect everyone. This will result in a peaceful and tolerant society.
To become tolerant, one must practice it. I would suggest that one must start practicing tolerance first by patiently listening and respecting the views and feelings of others. We should give space to everyone and tolerate their decisions. Remember, fighting is not the solution to our problems. It often worsens the relations. We should thus try to become tolerant and value the importance of tolerance in human life.
Tolerance as a Moral Virtue
Tolerance should be placed within the moral domain and must be recognized as a moral virtue. Some philosophers have linked tolerance with respect, equality, and liberty.
People often confuse tolerance with prejudice. Tolerance and prejudice are different concepts and should not be mistaken for being the opposite of each other. In fact, they exist in most of us.
Tolerance within the moral domain relates to fairness, justice, and respect and avoids causing harm to others; it can be viewed as a positive moral virtue. And early civil libertarians acknowledged tolerance as a moral duty. They argued that tolerant people value the individual, their independence, and freedom of choice.
The moral obligation of respecting individuals for what they are comes from tolerance. And it makes it possible to accept conflicting claims, beliefs, values, and ideas as long as are they are moral. For instance, different marriage practices fit in within moral values; but sexual abuse of children is immoral and must not be tolerated.
Empathy and Tolerance
Psychologists believe that empathy is a vital motivator for moral behavior. Others argue empathy is a motivator of prosaically and altruistic or unselfish behavior.
Empathic people are sensitive; they place themselves in someone else’s shoes or understand how it would feel to be treated like that. Being in someone else’s shoes is the essence of tolerance.
According to research, people of all ages have a strong sense of fairness and empathy towards others who differ in color, creed, or culture. Such people refuse prejudice between 70 to 80 percent of the time, affirming tolerance based on fairness and empathy. Thus, developing empathy in people is essential to make them tolerant.
Education is the one focus area that helps develop empathy and tolerance in people. An education policy that cultivates empathy in children is the need of the hour. Such a policy nurtures a strong sense of fairness and justice in children, ultimately leading to the development of a tolerant and harmonious society.
Humans became the dominant species of the world because of their social organization, built out of tolerance. If our early ancestors were intolerant, they would have killed each other rather than building civilizations. It is only by being tolerant that we can live harmoniously with others, can achieve our dreams, and fulfill our aspirations. Everyone should thus make being tolerant their way of life.
So, let us all be tolerant and make our lives happier, shinier, and full of diversity.