I have been continuing to think about healthy relationships. Not only relationships with those who are our intimates but also our community and societal relationships. I am convinced, without a doubt, that healthy relationships at all levels, in their very essence, benefit each one of us in every way — physically, emotionally, cognitively, practically and economically.
This brought me to thinking about tolerance. A vexed topic for us today. And then I recalled that there is such a thing as International Day of Tolerance.
The International Day of Tolerance is observed annually on Nov. 16. In its Declaration of Principles on Tolerance, the United Nations defines tolerance, in part, as, “… 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.”
In her blog post linked below, Hauwa Ibrahim, Esq., a visiting Nigerian scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, gives us a quote from Rumi: “I am reminded of the words of Rumi (1207-1273), a Sufi scholar, writer and poet who summed up tolerance as unconditional acceptance, patience, love, compassion, and benevolence embodied in what he referred to as ‘Seven Advices’ which epitomize the highest sentiment of humanity, transcends religious boundaries, and encompasses the common values of all religions:
• In generosity and helping others: be like the river.
• In compassion and grace: be like the sun.
• In concealing others’ faults: be like the night.
• In anger and fury: be like the dead.
• In modesty and humility: be like the soil.
• In tolerance: be like the ocean.
• Either you appear as you are, or: be as you appear.”
Ibrahim shares her own definition of tolerance: “In essence tolerance is a prime virtue for human dignity, where diverse peoples can live together with a richness of beliefs and experiences, where people are willing to listen with tolerance and compassion. To live and let live.”
Since, today there are so many opportunities to practice intolerance, active reminders may be necessary.
The United Nations (see links below) suggests the use of Story Circles to deepen understanding of tolerance through gaining intercultural competencies. These are especially useful in groups gathered for learning. “Specifically, some intercultural competencies goals for Story Circles include the following: Demonstrating respect for others, practicing listening for understanding, cultivating curiosity about similarities and differences with others, gaining increased cultural self-awareness, developing empathy, and developing relationships with culturally different others.” We might use these goals as everyday guides to stimulate our own awareness and the awareness of our family members.
Teachingvalues.com (see below link) gives us this fascinating list of the universality of what we may know best as the Golden Rule. Simply put, do unto others as you would have others do unto you. What a great learning tool to understand that this value seems to be universal.
The universality of the Golden Rule in the world religions
Christianity: All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
Confucianism: Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state.
Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
Hinduism: This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.
Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.
Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.
Taoism: Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.
Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing to another whatsoever is not good for itself.
So, what do you think about this echo throughout cultures and both religious and non-religious teachings? Could it be that tolerance is, in fact, a natural human value?
Nothing in this article is meant to be medical advice. Please consult your own health provider. Some information taken from:
Callie Wight is a California state-licensed registered nurse with a Master of Arts in psychology.