The Intolerant Pie
Yasmeen Aftab Ali
Living in times of intolerance that has transcended global barriers, race, religion and cultures; the result is hatred. This has led to more hatred as it becomes a vicious cycle. The basis of this intolerant behavior stems from prejudice that is inherent in our words, actions even body language. Intolerance can have many roots; from racial prejudice, to hatred towards a certain religious group and minority to even those having a certain sexual orientation or supporting a different political thought.
Mass killings of Jews for example is a glaring example of prejudice. Killing roughly six million European Jews-the Holocaust or the Shoah, is a sad reflection of intolerance in the history of mankind. Fleeing of people from Middle Eastern countries with reportedly ISIS killing Muslims of different sects, Christians and other minorities, even gays is yet another example.
Very recently, the world was shaken by the worst mass shooting, in New Zealand, a place known to be inhabited by peace loving people. Two mosques in Christchurch were hit. The latest mass shooting in New Zealand before this terrible one took place in 1997, in the North Island town of Raurimu, injuring four and killing six.
Prejudice based intolerance takes extreme shapes as reflected in some cases shared above, but even in daily lives of normal people, intolerance can reach new levels. Intolerance is there all around us. More so, on social media, where the computer acts as a shield between two or more people, allowing and ‘legitimizing words’ that one would never say face to face.
Intolerance can be inherited. Culture has a decisive role to play in this intolerance. ‘Culture may be set of values and beliefs, such as the value of loyalty to one’s group, combined with a belief that people who belong to a particular group have particular characteristics, are unlikeable for some reason, or merit mistreatment and the application of a different set of standards than we apply to ourselves (Opotow, 1990).
The Principles of Tolerance Proclaimed and signed by the Member States of UNESCO on 16 November 1995 define Tolerance as:
Article 1 – Meaning of tolerance
1.1 Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. It is fostered by knowledge, openness, communication, and freedom of thought, conscience and belief. Tolerance is harmony in difference. It is not only a moral duty, it is also a political and legal requirement. Tolerance, the virtue that makes peace possible, contributes to the replacement of the culture of war by a culture of peace.
1.2 Tolerance is not concession, condescension or indulgence. Tolerance is, above all, an active attitude prompted by recognition of the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. In no circumstance can it be used to justify infringements of these fundamental values. Tolerance is to be exercised by individuals, groups and States.
1.3 Tolerance is the responsibility that upholds human rights, pluralism (including cultural pluralism), democracy and the rule of law. It involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism and affirms the standards set out in international human rights instruments.
1.4 Consistent with respect for human rights, the practice of tolerance does not mean toleration of social injustice or the abandonment or weakening of one’s convictions. It means that one is free to adhere to one’s own convictions and accepts that others adhere to theirs. It means accepting the fact that human beings, naturally diverse in their appearance, situation, speech, behavior and values, have the right to live in peace and to be as they are. It also means that one’s views are not to be imposed on others.
We may not agree with another’s point on view, or way of life, or culture but we must give space to their right to all of that as we expect to exercise that right. Ethnic tolerance in multiethnic societies is the base to cross-cultural-national tolerance. If we cannot respect our minorities and different ethnic races, how can we respect and develop a working relationship with cross border cultures?
No culture is “superior” to another just as no race is superior to the other. We are just different. In diversity lies beauty. There is so much to learn from others. So much new to love and enjoy.
The intolerance practiced on media and on net creating stereotypes, and breeding intolerance for different groups leads to hate crimes and such opinions may well be deemed as incitement to violence.
Intolerance based on prejudices lead to discrimination that in turn leads to violence, hate, distrust…. the list is long.
There is dire need for mainstream media and social media practitioners to practice ‘responsible communication.’
We teach our children a lot of subjects in school; languages, sciences, arts. But we do not teach enough. We do not teach tolerance. It starts after all from the base!
The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets at @yasmeen_9
Yasmeen Aftab Ali
Weekly Op-Ed Columnist:
Author of 'A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan'
Blogs at http://pakpotpourri2.wordpress.com/
Twitter ID: @yasmeen