Theprinciple of Tolerance
NostraAetate and Plato’s apology are examples relevant to the principleof tolerance in a differing perspective. Nostra Aetate advocates forreligious tolerance and tries to answer some probing questions aboutdifferent religions. On the other hand, Plato’s apology shows theimportance of tolerance as a means of protecting innocent lives.Plato was an innocent man who was sentenced to death merely becausehis beliefs were different. If only tolerance was a guiding principlethen, Plato would have been saved from the cruel punishment.Tolerance refers to acceptance, respect, and appreciation of theworld’s diversity and the ways of human beings. Embracing toleranceis one of the things that make peace possible as people fromdifferent cultures and religions agree to appreciate each other.Although every politically correct educator or politician preachestoleration, many people’s actions betray the principle. I have seenplaces where peace has failed due to lack of tolerance. For instance,many wars between Christians and Muslims have occurred over time dueto religious differences. Further, people of different ethnicbackgrounds fail to cooperate with each other because of racism. Allthese are elements of intolerance. Tolerance is one of the greatestprinciples that promotes goodness and love among people regardless oftheir ethnic backgrounds.
Toleranceis a great principle promoted individual goodness and humanity invarious ways. It advocates for people to respect each other and livein harmony. God commands people to love one another withoutdiscrimination of any kind. According to the declaration, Christiansrespect other non Christians and recognizes their religious asimportant. “The church has also a high regard for Muslims,”(Nostra aetate 4) is a statement that shows tolerance as a virtuethat even Christians value. Nostra aetate focuses on the importanceof tolerating other people irrespective of their religion as a way ofpromoting individual goodness and that of the society. Thedeclaration also recognizes that there were so many quarrels betweenChristians and non Christians, which were obviously not necessary. Ifwe want to convert non Christians to Christians, we must convincethem using word and reason. It is a great mistake for Christians toimpose their religious beliefs on others without considering theirpoints of views or answering some of the most probing questions.
Itis noteworthy that even today, religions are constantly fighting eachother. It is true that the conflicts are decreasing because ofcivilization however, tolerance is far from being achieved. Racismand ethnic prejudice continues to influence the world and thedecisions that people make. Even though the constitution and law isagainst racism, there is still much that needs to be done to fightit. Some people have refused to accept others simply because of skincolor. I have seen cases where black people have been deniedleadership and good positions just because of their color. I think itis time that people accepted and respected each other despite theirskin color. We are living in a world where globalization requires usto accept each other for development purposes. This is the only wayin which we can all live peacefully and enhance democracy.
Sincetime memorial, intolerance has led to several conflicts. Plato’sapology is an example of the conflicts that have been in existencelong time ago. Plato was accused of disrespecting the gods, while onhis part he claimed to be a wise man who thinks critically andinquisitive. “This inquisition has led to my having many enemies ofthe worst and most dangerous kind, and has given occasion also tomany calumnies” (Plato 1), is a statement that shows people did nottolerate him because of his inquisitive nature. People did not givehim the freedom he needed to live his life. In the apology, it isclear that people had no tolerance for other people’s beliefs thereason Plato was found guilty and sentenced to death. He asked peopleto listen to his critics and think rationally rather than follow godsblindly. I think Socrates was right. People should think rationallyand let others practice their beliefs without interference as long asthey do not hurt others or break the law. Socrates would have beenspared if the jury tolerated other people’s beliefs.
Today,the world has become small thanks to globalization. People fromdifferent cultures, religions, nations, and lifestyle are living andworking in neighborhoods.To enhance the standards of living andpeace, it is essential for all to tolerate each other despiteindividuals’ origins. I have seen neighborhoods where blacks,Hispanics, and whites live in the same neighborhood. This makes mewonder what would happen if people fail to tolerate each other. Therewould be no peace and people would live in fear of being attacked bytheir neighbors. I am not specifically advocating for personalfriendships between the neighbors even though it is crucial. Peopleshould respect each other and live without harming one another. Evenin work places, I would advocate for people to cooperate with eachother for the benefits of the company. Likewise, companies shouldembrace cultural diversity by employing people based on theirqualifications and not origins. We are living in a competitive worldand it is only prudent for a company to hire skills and not races.Cultural diversity in work place promotes a company in various ways.
Tolerancecoexists in two ways recognizing differences and ignoringdifferences. Recognizing differences means trying to understand otherpeople’s way of life and respecting them even though you disagree.On the other hand, ignoring differences means that people shouldcompletely respect other people even without understanding their waysof life. The latter means that the ways of life of others may notconcern you, but you respect them anyway. Nostra aetate declarationwas trying to understand the differences in religions and answer someintriguing questions about non Christians. Its main aim was tounderstand the differences while at the same time respecting theiruniqueness. In this case, encouraging people to understand thedifferences is part of tolerance as long as one does not impose thebeliefs forcefully.
Nostraaetate further confirms that, “we cannot pray to God the father ofall if we treat other people in other than brotherly fashion.”(Nostra aetate 5). This is one of the greatest elements of tolerance.This means that even Christians agree that it is crucial to tolerateothers and treat them with respect irrespective of their faith. It isnot in people’s capacity to judge others rather, it is in people’scapacity to understand and respect each other.
Toleranceis a principle whose practice can make the world a good place to livein. It gives people the rights to enjoy their freedom knowing toowell that no one would question or harass them. People should learnthat diversity is essential in ways that are beyond humanunderstanding. Everyone believes that their beliefs are right andshould be respected. It is irrational to harass others on the basisof beliefs and not character. Tolerance is a core principle of humanrights that calls for respect and acceptance of each other’sdifferences. It is also worth noting that the world is becomingcompetitive and the only way to stay ahead is by concentrating onimportant factors rather than people’s beliefs, skin color, andcultural practices. The 21stcentury requires people to embrace the principle of tolerance in allaspects.
Plato,Apology of Socrates (6-20)