Nobukhosi: Tolerance or respect?

Hie, (that’s how we spell it in Zimbabwe) I am Nobukhosi one of the One Young World conference delegates.

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.

4 Responses to “Nobukhosi: Tolerance or respect?”

  1. February 9, 2010 at 17:20

    Great.Truth comes out naturally from youngster’s unpolluted ,uncorrupted mind and innocence.Wish we follow them.

  2. 2 Nate, Portland OR
    February 9, 2010 at 19:13

    This involves actively seeking knowledge about different religions and worldviews. In so doing, we learn to move from tolerance to understanding and respect.

    I’d be careful assuming that knowing more about different religions and worldviews leads inexorably to tolerance and understanding. When deeply held worldviews conflict understanding can lead to lack of respect and even antagonism. There may need to be a certain amount of keeping our less empirically justifiable views to ourselves if there is going to be social harmony.

  3. February 9, 2010 at 20:10

    There is a myth being propagated to all in sundry and especially to the young at the moment, its a semantic confusion, it is this, that

    to understand = to accept.

    Coming to understand what is happening and why it’s happening and in what way it has been traditionally carried out, and for what reason it was in the past thought to be a good idea and so why this has been the case for so long can lead to you coming to a point of vigorously NOT accepting what you have come to understand.

    Understanding may well lead you to be outraged by what you find out and to vigorously appose it.

    To understand is not the same as to accept, nor should it be.

  4. February 9, 2010 at 20:59

    Nobukhosi you make a very good point when questioning as to what is tolerance and respect.

    Should we for example tolerate the intolerable? We seem to find it very easy to accept cultural relativism whereby the human rights of females are either ignored or more usually whereby traditionally based gender violence is practiced by a cultural and perpetuated and condoned by a religion. There must be value judgments made or else we are left in a quagmire that can lead to inhuman acts carried out in the name of cultural respect. Must we respect without criticism all religions and their practices willy nilly? Because someone holds a belief we cannot surely ignore it if it entails ritual violence? Many religions traditionally and ritualistically practice human right abuses against females. Is this to be respected? I think not, we must have the courage to stand up and say NO to this kind of behaviour even if it is upsetting for some cultures to face.

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