After the formalities of the opening ceremony, we rolled up our sleeves this morning for the first day of the conference.
There’s lots to be done and it has stirred up a lot of debate amongst the people here. Lots has been said, but what’s got me thinking is the plenary on Interfaith Dialogue. In particular, the resolution called for religious leaders to promote tolerance.
The word ‘tolerance’ has been used quite a lot, but what do we mean by ‘tolerance’? Too often we get caught up in the lingo. These terms are so vague and mean very little. They aren’t binding and they don’t offer any solutions to day-to-day challenges or ‘social injustices’.
What I want to know about religious tolerance is: Does it mean that we exchange pleasantries and then go on our separate ways knowing absolutely nothing about each other? Is this enough?
I think not.
Whilst we do need to be more tolerant, we also need to respect each other and our religious views. Respect can only be achieved by taking an active interest in other religions.
This involves actively seeking knowledge about different religions and worldviews. In so doing, we learn to move from tolerance to understanding and respect.
By doing this I feel that we will be able to interact comfortably and honestly with individuals from different religious backgrounds.
This is just one of the many topics that I would like to discuss tomorrow, alongside topics such as global democracy, the vagueness language as well as the uses and role of the UN.