Category Archives: Foreigner

Tolerant from the perspective of a foreigner

Say no to Racism

Last week was the commemoration of the 1992 Rostock racism riot. It was the worst mob attack against foreigners in postwar Germany. Several hundred right-wing extremist were involved, and about 3000 neighborhood onlookers stood by, supporting them. Supporting them! The violent, racist extremist! What have happened in the decade after this horrible day? Is Europe nowadays a safer place for foreigners? I wish I could say discrimination is gone, but I fear we move more into the old habit of us versus them. Isn’t it time to look each other in the eyes and see we both want to same? Live a happy, fulfilling life?

I believe in equality of all human beings, regardless of nationality, skin-color or religion. I do not care if you are black, white, brown, yellow, Christian, Muslim, Greek, Belgium, Afghan, or American. I do not see myself as only a Dutch person in a foreign country, I see myself as an individual that tries to make to most out of his life. And I work hard to make it happen. But I am lucky. I am man, white, not religious and Dutch. I speak three languages fluently and am open and friendly. Some of my traits were given, some were taught, some I had to teach myself. But I do not think myself better than a woman, black, Muslim and Turkish that only speaks one language. I cannot judge her for I do not know which opportunities were given to her. I think her life is probably harder than mine. I am given plenty of opportunities to work, learn and develop; I doubt she is given the same.

Instead of blaming foreigners for the crisis the country (e.g. European Union) is in, look at what options are given to them. An easy blame-game would be to pass the ball to the husband, the immigrant worker who is not integrating and is sticking to his own traditions and beliefs. But that is too easy. In order to integrate one has to feel welcome, and integration, just as tolerance, is a too-way street.

All to often you hear the “integration problem” discussed by politicians, or maybe even with your neighbor. But what is this problem really? That people from a different culture keep their own traditions? Or that they still have a different skin-color? I do not think that living in a rainy country for a long period will make your skin-color turn white, so stop expecting that! People should stop thinking in boxes, and realize that working together is a win-win situation for the whole world. Provide opportunities for people to make a positive impact on the world, invest in the development of all people. Stop discriminating other people because they look different or have different traditions.

My belief is that tolerance and respect for other people is the stepping stone for the future. You do not have to share my belief; my belief does not require you to. I do not assume to hold the absolute truth, but I do belief that you don’t either.


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Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization

After writing my own mission last week I just found this organization. They fight for a good cause, but also struggle where the boundaries of tolerance are. Interesting organization though, definately tries to spread tolerance!

“A tolerant society cannot tolerate intolerance, which would destroy it. It is difficult to strike a balance, however, and different societies do not always agree on the details.”

Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization

What is tolerance?

Tolerance is respect and acceptance of the rich diversity of the world’s cultures, 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 is the virtue that makes peace possible. It contributes to the replacement of the culture of war by a culture of peace.

Tolerance involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism and affirms the standards set out in international human rights instruments. 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, behaviour and values, have the right to live in peace and to be as they are. It also means…

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The definition or meaning of Tolerance

Welcome to BeTolerant. This is my dedication to strive for a better, peaceful world where people treat each other with respect.

Some definitions of Tolerance according to my friend The Internet:statue

  • “The ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behavior that one dislikes or disagrees with.”
  • “The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.”
  • “A fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.”
  • “Interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.”

I think it is important to point out that tolerance is not a belief system, not does the word contain truth. The word itself is just a word. Nothing more, nothing less. It is up to us to figure out what we mean by tolerance, define its boundaries and create a shared understanding of its meaning. The meaning may vary between cultures and religions, and even neighbors might have a different perspective on what includes tolerance and what “proper tolerant behavior is”.

I am not a prophet. I do not speak unquestionable truth. I am not a religious man, but I can understand the reasons to believe. I will not deny your prophet and say you are wrong, nor will I accept your prophet and promote your belief as the only truth. Not even science can claim absolute truth until we know all there is to know. And every answer science uncovers leaves us with more questions, so I do not think that time will come soon. Every human needs to believe. Whether it is in Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Tom Cruise, or Science, we all seek truth. And once we think we have found it, it is our purpose to convince other people of this truth. This cycle has been going on for ages with many ups and down along the way. Torture and murder, enlightenment and purpose, has been done in the name of truth. I do not say believing is wrong, I think believing is not even a choice. We all believe, we just differ in our belief system.

I believe that every human has value, every human deserves rights. Whether you are Muslim or Christian, black or white, German or Pakistani, I believe that does not matter. What does matter to me is how you treat your fellow man or woman. I believe in simple common sense. You do not steal, murder or rape. You do not beat up your wife. You do not force your truth upon others. You stand up for yourself and your family when threatened, but do not provoke and threaten other people.

I was asked what I thought about the statement: “tolerance ends where intolerance begins”. It is an interesting quote for sure. It tries to establish boundaries on the word tolerance in order to make clear to everyone what “the right way of tolerance” is. Tolerance is context depended. Tolerance is culturally different. Tolerance is individually different. So I cannot make these boundaries for you. The only universal aspect I would like to give to the word tolerance is respect for your fellow man and woman. Where you put your boundaries is up to you. Live as a good person, protect the people that require protection, support the people that require support. Do not assume to hold absolute truth but be open to other beliefs. Discuss. Argue. Get involved. Get angry! But be civilized. Be tolerant.


Filed under Foreigner

Being a foreigner


Foreigners, BAH!

They never really learn the language, have strange habits, are lazy and take advantage of our social system. They steal our jobs and women, and they work for low wages that normal people cannot compete with. They steal and deal drugs. Or women. Or both. All in all, we don’t like them.

Don’t understand me wrong, I am not a rascist. Our cleaning lady is a foreigner and we really like her. And we always say hello to our foreign neighbors, we even invited them over for coffee once! No, our foreign people are ok. It is all the other foreign people that are the problem. The ones you read about in the papers and see on tv. Most problematic are the ones that you don’t know but who have the guts to walk around in your town with their strange foreign outfits. Obviously they are not integrating at all and therefore must fall in the lazy, drug-dealing, job-stealing foreigner category.

But have you ever been a foreigner yourself? And I don’t mean a holiday to Spain where you could use your 5 words of Spanish and claim you speak the language. I mean starting a new life in a country with a different language and culture. If you would do this you would realize that you don’t speak the language at all. People are not really happy to have you in their peacefull country. And even when you change your appearance to local standards, do language course after language course, and invite your neighbors over for coffee, you will always be the outsider. A lazy job-stealing one to the people you have not yet invited for coffee.

Being tolerant comes from acceptance through actions, not mere words. Especially in times of crisis it is convenient to blame the unknown, the outsiders. But it is in times of crisis when working together for a better future is the only way out of the mess. The nationalistic tendencies that are lingering in Europe (and beyond) are feelings of fear of the unknown. We can see that our long (European) history is abundant with fear of new things, foreign things. We have crossed each others borders time and time again and mingled our cultures and habits. What was once considered purely Italian is now almost daily on everyone’s plate. The Dutch have won a golden medal in snowboarding without even having mountains. What was once typical for one culture can be accepted and integrated by another culture.

Where does my culture stop and does yours begin? When does integrating becomes being accepted? When does the outsider become a local, and what about his children?

How do you feel about tolerance in your country? And how do you think we can promote it? I’d like to hear your input!


Filed under Foreigner