International Day of Tolerance 2023
In 1996, the United Nations General Assembly decided to celebrate International Day of Tolerance on November 16 every year. Nowadays, tolerance appears to be lacking. Acceptance of diversity is a crucial element of positive mental health.
We should always strive for diversity acceptance and a more tolerant world, regardless of the International Day of Tolerance. Ultimately, prosperous relationships lead to thriving communities.
Why we need International Day of Tolerance 2023
As the Director of Clergy Training, I’m becoming less tolerant of religious individuals who show intolerance. It may seem strange, but I learned this from my experiences with religious people of various backgrounds. They share their observations and experiences of extreme political views, bias, and even hatred manifesting within faith communities. These attitudes and expressions bear no relation to genuine faith.
Regrettably, our nation has adopted a “public theology” that lacks grounding in scripture, God, or any religious doctrine. Yet, it appears that particular religious communities have endorsed and sanctified these radical stances. These religious groups believe that this country is God’s favorite nation. They have a strict and narrow-minded worldview and believe in one specific way of existing.
When people are different or have different beliefs, it’s easy to create conflict, divide them, and criticize them. As a result, the broader community has started perceiving religious communities as intolerant and judgmental.
What is tolerance?
To put it in simple terms, I’d like to refer to the words of Rodney King from 1992, “People, I just want to say, can’t we all get along? Can’t we all get along?” The LA police brutally attacked King in the first widely seen video of them beating a black man. This incident sparked racial unrest, and King took to the podium, pleading for harmony by asking, “Can’t we all get along?”
The phrase, “Can’t we all get along?” summarizes my hope for our world, country, and local communities.
Readers must comprehend my interpretation of “tolerance” and the principles that guide my public faith. In essence, tolerance is about acknowledging and respecting the rights of others to hold differing opinions or practices. Recognizing the significance of diversity and fostering an environment of curiosity to understand another person’s thoughts and values is essential.
Respect, openness, and curiosity toward others are the roots of tolerance. These traits are crucial to my existence in this world. In addition to respect, openness, and curiosity, I abide by the following three principles of public faith:
- Only one God exists, the architect of all creation, and we are all crafted in God’s image.
- God is love.
- God calls God’s people to love as God has first loved us.
As a Christian minister, I have many other beliefs that I teach and support in my church. On this International Day of Tolerance 2023, though, I remember that these principles guide me in public.
International Day of (In)Tolerance
We should treat each other with respect, openness, and curiosity, all in the spirit of love. Many religious people lack tolerance or understanding of public faith in politics, race, gender, and sexuality these days.
Religious groups often divide into smaller factions because of differing beliefs and values. This division leads to their separation from other religious groups. This causes labeling and mistreatment of people with different beliefs, like liberals, conservatives, progressives, and left-wingers.
Unfortunately, the algorithms of our social media platforms amplify these isolated beliefs. Therefore, even though the International Day of Tolerance is marking its 27th year, the division in our society has only escalated, along with the intolerance that erodes civility and public conversation.
The divide increases, and so does intolerance for the other. Because of the intolerance, we are often in despair, living under a pall of darkness covering the world. Because of this despair, many strike out with violence, not able to see any hope for a brighter day. And thus, the darkness grows.
We are overwhelmed and losing hope as we don’t know how to reconnect with others and find harmony again. How do we start mending the rift? We worry more and feel sad, wondering if anyone can show us the good things in life.
On this International Tolerance Day 2023, we turn to our leaders and politicians but quickly realize they are clueless. How can we reconnect with the understanding that the world is the product of a benevolent God? I speculate that God must appreciate diversity – otherwise, why would He have made us so uniquely and intricately?
Therefore, tolerance is a virtue and a divine principle demonstrating the Supreme Commandment. When asked about the most important commandment, Jesus said, “Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.” This is the foremost and primary commandment.
And the second is similar: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Consider it the golden principle if you’re uncomfortable viewing this as the ultimate commandment. If we desire others to show us tolerance, we must reciprocate. We should approach each other with respect, openness, and curiosity.
This is not just a way to heal the world and improve society but also a framework that includes everyone’s different political beliefs, nationalities, ethnicities, and other divisions in our world. Isn’t this the basic idea of the First Amendment? The First Amendment states that Congress cannot pass laws regarding religion or prohibit free exercise.
I pray for global harmony and peaceful coexistence with tolerance. Can’t we all just get along?
About the Author
Dolores Littleton, DMin, LMFT, is the Director of CFR’s Clergy Training. Dr. Littleton helps churches and clergy with conflict, focusing on their mission and ministry through consultation and coaching services. If you have questions about International Day of Tolerance 2023, this blog, or our Post Graduate Certificate Program for Clergy, you may reach Dr. Littleton at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (610) 213-9725.
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