Tag Archives: Religious Tolerance

Tolerant people of the past: Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

Tolerant person of the past: Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and ...

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and spiritual leader of India.

 

Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most influential Indians of the last century is most famous for his non-violent civil disobedience. He was the leader of Indian Nationalism in British- ruled India. Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights and freedom across the world.

What would he say if he would look at the world today? How would he respond to the movie “Innocence of Muslims” and the following protests? Gandhi also had to deal with violent clashes between religions, and even though he was a great man, he could not stop it from happening. However it is argued that without his presence and persistence on non-violence the clashed would have been bigger, bloodier and deadlier. He had to live with racism while living in South-Africa, and deal with the intricate caste-system in India upon his return. The troubles of today are not that different from the troubles back then. Religions battle for ownership of absolute truth, creating enemies out of everyone who does not belief the same.

Democratic freedom has been won by India, and people live (mostly) in peace. In the Middle-East however this freedom has not been won in most countries, or has only been won recently and the political struggle has not (yet) evolved into a democratic political process. But the dictator has been beaten, the dragon has been slain, but the world did not change overnight. There is the need for an enemy, someone needs to be blamed. The difficult political relationship that has evolved over the past decades between the Western World and the Middle-East creates a platform for the search of an enemy. And when the insults keep coming, it is easy to hate.

Gandhi promoted asceticism; compassion for all forms of life; the importance of vows for self discipline; vegetarianism; fasting for self-purification; mutual tolerance among people of different creeds; and “syadvad,” the idea that all views of truth are partial.

Mutual tolerance of people of different creeds.

The idea that all views of truth are partial.

In times like these we could use someone to stand up and be the new Gandhi.

“Be the change that you want to see in the world”

 

Series: Tolerant people of the past

Charlie Chaplin

Mother Theresa

Related:

Freedom of speech vs Innocence of Muslims

 

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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.

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