International Day of Tolerance

Published by The New Nation on 25th March, 2017 (Link Above)

Barrister Miti Sanjana :
The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for Tolerance is observed globally on November 16 to create awareness amongst people about the significance of tolerance in the society. The International Day for Tolerance is a day symbolizing the need to learn about respecting and recognizing the rights and beliefs of others regardless of color, ethnicity, religion, heritage or even personal preferences. It is also a day to discuss about and take leanings on the negative effects and impacts that intolerance has created in our society. On International Day for Tolerance discussions and debates take place across the world, focusing on how human beings suffer various forms of injustice, oppression, racism and unfair discrimination on the basis of their religion or background due to intolerance. The day is celebrated by disseminating flyers, posters, news articles and broadcasts, and other promotional material to raise people’s awareness about the importance of tolerance in our everyday life. Other activities include essays, dialogues and story-telling etc.
There are various kinds of human rights laws banning and punishing hate crimes and discrimination against minorities. But it is very important to organize special training programs, discussions, messages about the need of tolerance to strengthen moral and intellectual solidarity amongst people of different groups through education, dialogue among cultures, knowledge-sharing etc.
Every morning when we wake up and turn on the TV we are confronted with the news of communal hatred, terrorism, violence, war, disasters happening everywhere in the world. We live in a world with a wide diversity of people with different beliefs, cultures, religions, lifestyle, habits, thoughts and feelings. Tolerance is a virtue which is required to maintain a harmonious relationship with others while living in our society with families or alone or in workplace or anywhere. It is a pre-requisite to establish love, peace and joy within the family, society and world. Tolerance is a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own. Without tolerance the human mind tends to become judgmental and selfish.
Recently in Bangladesh, some miscreants vandalized and looted Hindu temples in Brahmanbaria. They attacked and looted many houses of the Hindu community. Within few days of these attack, evictions of Santal people from their land took place in another area. The trends of growing hostility toward ethnic and religious minorities in the country are growing alarmingly.
What is tolerance? Tolerance is the opposite of intolerance. If you consult an English dictionary, it will tell you that tolerance means the capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.
Tolerance is a highly valuable quality in social life. It is a fact that there are differences among people in various aspects of life. In such a situation, if people act according to their own mindset, it is bound to create intolerance that may lead to violence. Therefore, the best policy is what is called tolerance. Tolerance is the only way to establish peace in society. Adhering to the way of tolerance creates the kind of environment in which everyone finds room to carry out their constructive activities. Tolerance is an integral part of our culture. We have a long history of the culture of tolerance. Tolerance helps us to respect human dignity regardless of color, sex, religious beliefs, and political views and to accept our surroundings. Tolerance is not only the acknowledgement and respect of one’s different opinions but also it means that acceptance of someone who is different from him or herself. Tolerance teaches us to respect fundamental human rights. Tolerance is a virtue and we all are familiar with that cliché. However, it is constant commitment to others who live with us within the society.
Tolerance has long been a concern for many of us, but it is becoming a bigger and bigger issue today. Tolerance is a necessity for individuals within a society to get along, especially when a variety of cultures and people with different color, ethnic group, religion, heritage, religious beliefs live in one community or nation.
It also teaches us to be more loving and compassionate. Tolerance does not mean that all individuals must agree with others views but tolerance involves allowing others to express their own views and practice their faith without interruption, harassment or discrimination, hatred, disrespect, discrimination and violence. We can be different in various ways but can respect each other and love one another despite our differences.

(The writer is an Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh and an activist.)