Tolerance Builds Society
The individual and society are intertwined inextricably. Society shapes each individual providing the arena for our development, and sets the ideals that we should strive for. From a citizenship viewpoint, our task is to recognise our indebtedness to society and our duty towards it, to foster the social virtues of honesty, fair play, tolerance and cordiality. A chance conglomeration of humans does not become a society. Each one of us has a responsibility to contribute to the welfare of all.
Intolerance in a society is the sum-total of the intolerance of its individual members. Bigotry, stereotyping, stigmatising, insults and racial jokes are examples of individual expressions of intolerance to which some people are subjected daily. Intolerance breeds intolerance. It leaves its victims in pursuit of revenge. In order to fight intolerance individuals should become aware of the link between their behaviour and the vicious cycle of mistrust and violence in society. Each one of us should begin by asking: am I a tolerant person? Do I stereotype people? Do I reject those who are different from me? Do I blame my problems on ‘them’?
Many people know that tomorrow’s problems will be increasingly global but few realise that solutions to global problems are mainly local, even individual. When confronted with an escalation of intolerance around us, we must not wait for governments and institutions to act alone. We are all part of the solution. We should not feel powerless for we actually posses an enormous capacity to wield power. Non-violent action is a way of using that power-the power of people. The tools of non-violent action-putting a group together to confront a problem, to organise a grass-roots network, to demonstrate solidarity with victims of intolerance, to discredit hateful propaganda-are available to all those who want to put an end to intolerance, violence and hatred.
Religions for Peace Australia actively promotes peace in Australia in all dimensions of life: those at home, and the homeless; those who seek to build a home in Australia, and those who are sequestered outside Australia; those who have safety in and outside the home, and those who are victims of human trafficking and slavery; those who seek to foster harmony, cooperation and understanding among the faith communities and spiritual groups in Australia, and for those who have no religion – who, nonetheless are women and men of goodwill and human values.