Acceptance. Tolerance. Peace.
Three things that come immediately to my mind when I think about moral principles that everyone should live their lives by. Of course, there are thousands more, but what purpose does listing principle after principle have if we don’t fully understand the scope that even one of those has on the world. In this case, I wanted to focus on just these three.
Acceptance and tolerance. Things that seem like they would go hand in hand. Now, don’t get me wrong, they obviously do, but what’s more important is how they are completely different from each other. Each one having it’s own realm to conquer, only to later lead to the ever broadening and inspirational idea of peace. The reason that I’m writing this is because of the ever increasing number of hate crimes against people of different races, religions, sexualities, genders, and over all beliefs. Within the past week, I was horrified to see news of beheadings of Christians in Egypt, shootings of jews in Copenhagen, decimation of jewish cemeteries, stabbing of a transgender young adult, and airstrikes of muslim homes and cities in the Middle East and Northern Africa. It’s actually quite interesting to point out that, these horrible and unbelievable crimes against humanity, are reported in the news as any other occurrence. In the simplest of words, we have become so adapted and used to the frequency of crimes fueled by intolerance and hate, that we see it as “regular” news.
Tolerance. Defined loosely as the willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own. Something that seems so simple, and “natural” to me, is something completely unthought of in other parts of the world. Ideologies of organizations and entire groups of people around the world are based on principles that completely go against this “natural” phenomena. Maybe it’s because I’m gay, and I surround myself with very open minded and liberal people, but I find the fact that so many people around the world don’t want to embrace this absolutely disgusting. Tolerance does not mean acceptance. The world would be every single shade of peaceful and happy if everyone accepted each other for who they are. But that is realistically impossible, and will never happen. What can happen, is if everyone in the world was tolerant of each other. I would love everyone to accept me for who I am, but that isn’t going to happen. I do, however, ask that people don’t treat me differently, don’t view me as a different person, and don’t judge me on how I live my life. That, is tolerance. Acceptance would be supporting me along my life, and hoping that I feel more and more comfortable being who I am in the world.
Religion plays a key role in how people shape their lives and personalities. I have never felt comfortable in Church, mostly because of it’s closed views on the world, and (let’s be honest) mostly discriminatory policies against gay people. On the other hand, if I wasn’t strong enough mentally to make my own views on the world, I would look towards the church to teach me what views (they think) I should have. And this is what happens to most people around the world. So that is where the problems start. As a human develops from a child to an adult, they will look to three places to teach them how to live their lives: their parents, their school, and their spiritual and religious guides. It’s how children are raised from a young age that justify how they will live their lives in the future. So what is the solution here.
Stop religiously justified teaching of intolerance. Almost all world religions teach of some higher power teaching the world to love all people. There shouldn’t be any analysis behind that statement. Love all people. This does not mean love all people except the gays, muslims, transgenders, and white people. This means love all people. Obviously if all people would start to follow this principle, we would honestly reach world peace. But that isn’t going to happen.
The last point that needs to be made is that “love all people” does not necessarily mean “accept all people”. I would love to think that it does, but it doesn’t. This statement purely means “be tolerant of people around you”. Don’t hate people for their choice to be happy.
I urge everyone to accept people for who they are. Accept their choice to live their life in a way where they will be happy with it. But if that’s not possible for you, at least be tolerant of them. And only then, will we reach peace.