Practice of Tolerance

Two thousand and eleven was the year full of conflicts caused mainly by intolerance of cultural, political and religious differences. The diversity of cultures and forms of expressions are seen by many as a basis for hatred rather than a cause for celebration. I was shocked when hearing the news that almost a hundred youngsters at summer camp in Norway lost their lives, killed by one mad man, a Christian fundamentalist who saw multiculturalism as a threat to the supremacy of the white race. Muslim fundamentalists were active in killing Christians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and also killed Christians in Northern Nigeria and in Indonesia. Israeli Jews and their Zionist supporters also killed Palestinians in Gaza, the West bank and Jerusalem, no matter whether they were Muslims or Christians. In Thailand, politicians mobilized people into red and yellow shirts to show difference in political loyalty and encouraged them to fight one another causing many lost of lives. Over thirty years of my international work, I belief in tolerance as the virtue that makes peace possible in the our world. From the beginning of its creation in 1945, the United Nations Organization promotes multiculturalism as something good for the world. Tolerance of differences in race, sex, religion and culture is written in the UN Charter. I was happy that in 1995, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) initiated the United Nations International Day of Tolerance to be annually observed on November 16. According to the UN, tolerance means respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our cultures. It is harmony in difference based on human rights and fundamental freedoms of other human beings. The practice of tolerance does not mean tolerance of social injustice or abandonment of weakening of one’s conviction.This New Year, I think we should look again at the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance and use its text to create new communication and education programs, computer games for teachers to be used in schools and the mass and social media to remind people and their friends around the world of the danger of intolerance. We cannot prevent the outburst of violence that happened last year, but we can do something about it this year by encouraging individuals, groups, and States to become more tolerance, recognizing the rights and beliefs of others including the respect of human rights laws.

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