Tolerance and understanding

Tolerance and understanding

Tolerance

A free person in a free society is able to tolerate other individuals’ behaviour. A society cannot be free if another individual is not allowed to be different, in any way. Moreover, if one does not tolerate the other, how could the other tolerate the one? It is a mutual responsibility.

Nevertheless, tolerance has been severely misunderstood from both moderate and extreme sides. To tolerate does not mean to accept, to tolerate does not mean to understand. A nuisance can be tolerated, but a person might as well ask the other to adapt her or his behaviour to make the nuisance more bearable, or not existent at all. Many heinous crimes are being tolerated today, but would they be accepted if they were in our back yard? And some things need to be tolerated, because they are simply not always understood by everyone.

Less Judgement, More Tolerance

Less Judgement, More Tolerance

It’s easy to judge a person carrying strange clothes and walking in a strange way. It’s easy to judge a person who talks strange, speaks a different language or has different beliefs. But if we would judge each other so much, how could we live with each other? One person may be very quiet, the other may be very loud. So what? Perhaps that person likes to be quiet, perhaps that person does not choose to be quiet but has underlying reasons to be quiet. And the person that is loud, perhaps she or he needs attention, perhaps she or he is just used to being loud. That’s why we need tolerance, it should be tolerated, even if we wouldn’t understand where the behaviour is coming from.

Understanding

Combined with tolerance comes understanding. A behaviour that is understood is much easier to be tolerated. Why does a cat jump up a tree? Why does the dog bark at the mail deliverer? Why do religious people pray and non-religious people don’t? Find out, I’d say, and be a more knowledgeable person than you are now. Because it gives many insights into human behaviour, but not the least important: your own behaviour.

Understanding other behaviours means reflecting on your own behaviours. Why do I do this, and another person something different? Perhaps there is a reason why that other person responds to me in this way, and it could be changed by changing my own behaviour. This is what understanding does, and this is how understanding enhances tolerance.

Understanding

Understanding

People build virtual walls around themselves for a reason. Other people are often too judgemental. In order to protect her- or himself, a person never shows her or his true self at first sight. Therefore, to reach understanding, a person has to do more than only look at the first appearance. A person has to do more than judge within the usual framing. A quiet person is not necessarily shy. A shy person is not necessarily quiet. A shy person does not choose to be quiet and another person may just prefer to listen first, and talk later. Conversely, a loud person may be ready to listen, or she or he just likes to listen to her- or himself.

Each person is an island to discover, so don’t pass that island before exploring it first, or don’t judge at all. Tolerate what should be tolerated, but anything that could be tolerated should not necessarily be tolerated. I understand a thief stealing my phone completely, considering her or his troublesome personal situation, whatever that may be; no job, no family… but that does not make stealing right. Should stealing be accepted? No. But it should be understood.

Understand, understand what and how to tolerate, and don’t judge what or whom you don’t understand.

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Heroes for freedom, Iran

After Iran’s tenth Presidential Election, political and civil unrest have been around Iran. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has taken the role of the President of Iran ever since, with the support of Seyed Ali Khamenei.

The international community has enough reasons to claim the elections were rigged, and the results of the elections are false. Nevertheless, the current government of Iran has a brutal policy towards its own citizens when it concerns the freedom of assembly and the freedom of speech. Iranian citizens have used their human right to voice their opinion on the elections by protesting on the streets and telling the world that Iran is not free, and that Iran is oppressed by its rulers, despite being ruthlessly beaten, being shot by (military) police or even run over by cars.

Even now, there are political prisoners, uncertain about their lives, whether they can see their family and friends, or whether they can see another day. As of now, Iranian student Habibollah Latifi‘s life is in danger, because his execution is set tomorrow. He has been charged for being member of an armed separatist group, but his family ascertains that he is being punished for being politically active.

Imprisoned student activists have begun a hunger strike because they can not see their family and friends. What is more, student activist Bahareh Hedayat is in need of surgery in prison because she is reportedly suffering from gall bladder stones.

Any person with a heart and conscience knows that this is unacceptable. Whether you are conservative or progressive, socialist or libertarian, the right to believe what you want, the right to say and even think what you want is the same right as opposing it. People may agree or may not agree, but what does not show greatness in leadership is the show of force; it is governing with the absence of force.

2010 February 11: Demonstration on Dam Square in Amsterdam

Demonstration on Dam Square in Amsterdam
(11 February 2010)

The Green Movement has shown unfaltering strength and conviction in overthrowing oppression and bringing justice for the people of Iran. With the honour of witnessing and speaking before a demonstration on 11 February 2010 in Amsterdam, it has become clear that the free people of Iran are done with the oppression. So should the international community.

Everything should be done, even before tomorrow to stop the execution of Habibollah Latifi and all others who share his situation, including Bahareh Hedayat, to help the citizens of Iran to retain their rights as human beings to live their lives as they see fit, to believe what they want to believe and to think and say what they want to think and say. This is our duty as fellow human beings, not Dutchmen, not Germans, British, Americans, Norwegians or even Europeans, but as human beings. We would not want our own country to be left alone in oppression, not being able to be who and what we are and want to be. To work for our dreams and rejoice on what we have and what we could be.

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