Thoughts about Tolerance
On 1995 UNESCO’s Member States adopted a Declaration of Principles on Tolerance. According to the declaration, tolerance is respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance recognizes the universal human rights and fundamental freedom of others. There are 7,4 billion people in the world and we are naturally diverse, which means that only tolerance can ensure the survival of mixed communities in every region of the globe.
But why it is so that sometimes it is hard to be tolerant to someone or something? We are often comfortable with what we already know and are used to, so when something new comes, we hesitate and in order to protect ourselves we stay true to what we already know. We can say people are often slaves of our habits. It’s comfortable for us.
Maybe you have heared a quote: „Life begins with one step outside your comfort zone“ and I believe that illustrates well how building tolerance to new situations, different people, traditions works. It’s not comfortable at first, but while you are giving it a chance, you might discover a whole new way of life. It is important to keep your mind open and let the world suprise you.
Education for tolerance should aim at countering influences that lead to fear and exclusion of others, and should help young people develop capacities for independent judgement, critical thinking and ethical reasoning. Here the interpersonal intelligence comes really handy. The core of interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand other’s emotions, motives, wishes, ideas and relate to them. It is important to know that the diversity of our world's many religions, languages, cultures and ethnicities is not a pretext for conflict, but is a treasure that enriches us all. It gives us many opportunities for co-operation and growth.
It would be difficult to ask everyone to be tolerant towards everyone and eveything, but we can always start with smaller steps. What can we do in our everyday situations to practice becoming more tolerant?
- Listen carefully without jumping to conclusions
Be an active listener. While having a converstation with someone really listen what they have to say and try to understand. Everyone has their own story to share and we want to be listened. Give your full attention to the person you are talking to.
- Try to understand the other person’s point of view
Try to put yourself into other person’s shoes and truly understand what they are saying. Ask questions to understand where they are coming from with those ideas. What makes them think like this. All of us have their own experiences and ideas that have shaped us the way we are and what we believe in.
- Agree to disagree
You might not agree with the person and their beliefs or opinions, and that’s okay. We’re all different perception of life. Once you accept that it’s okay to “agree to disagree” it should be easier to understand others. Just let them tell their story and learn something from them.
I would like to end this writing with my favourite thought:
TOLERANCE: The ability to respect and accept the way we and things are, things I can’t change and things that don’t hurt me.