United Nations International Tolerance Day

by Tamara Moumna

To you, the 16th of November is probably a day like any other, nothing spectacular. Especially not in comparison to what happened a couple of days ago on the 11th: the mark of the beginning of the Dutch Carnival season. This huge party is where everybody enjoys life peacefully and drinks together.  But I disagree; the 16th of November is the ‘United Nations International Tolerance Day’, which maybe still does not seem like a big deal to you. But if you really think that it is not important, take a look around you when you are out in the streets. What do you see? Different people rushing around, minding their own business and, depending on where you are, all coming from very different backgrounds, with their own personal stories to tell which shaped them and turned them into who they are today.

Tolerance is a key aspect in all our lives. And civilised society could not work without it. The fact that we can live together peacefully is an outstanding achievement of tolerance. Sadly as we see it every day, tolerance is not a standard norm in every part of the world. Discrimination of minorities whether for political reasons, religious differences or prejudice due to sexual orientation is often on the day-to-day agenda of many governments, individuals and even churches. For example the discrimination of and even violence against homosexuals in Uganda; the suppression of basic human rights in many dictatorships around the world or the hatred some people have against people from other religions. These are just a few examples of intolerance which occur daily.  Each time I hear about these, especially on days such as the ‘International Tolerance Day’, it makes me sad. Because when it comes down to the facts, we are still all human beings no matter what we believe in, what sexual preferences we have got or what we look like. We feel the same emotions, breathe the same air and share the same planet.

If you ask me, tolerance is a lot more than the ability to accept differences in society. It allows you to experience other cultures and to share your own culture with others: to see the world from a completely different angle and isn’t that what makes life interesting?

Call me a dreamer and naïve because I still hope that in the future people are going to be more tolerant and that the world is going to be a better place, but maybe someday ignorant people will draw the logical conclusion that we are all in this world together. I hope that they will start accepting the people surrounding them the way they are and maybe even come to enjoy the different cultures, values and lifestyles they have.  HAPPY INTERNATIONAL TOLERANCE DAY EVERYONE!

Tamara Moumna

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