Wishes for More Tolerant 2016 & Actions?

Photo Credit: UN Photo

By any standard, 2015 has exhibited a negative trend for tolerance and diversity. The trend is not just limited to ISIS or Africa’s virulent conflicts as Burundi, Ogaden, Central African Republic or Boko Haram. Some European states put up barbed wire even as some leaders (Angela Merkel most notably) sought to welcome fleeing displaced persons. (See: “Defining Welcome to Refugees by Religion, Race, or Ethnicity Aids Haters & Conflict.”)

Then, there is Donald Trump who has sought to project tolerance and respect for the other as something merely politically correct – it is a new low for a US that has thrived as well as prided itself on diversity.

Enhancing tolerance is something that is not like a driverless car.  As fear and hate are promoted by some to further their own political, ideological or economic agenda, diversity needs its own advocates. It may appear self-evident that Europe needs new demographic energy to counter a rapidly aging population.  Or, history may teach that US innovation and entrepreneurship has been frequently driven by the energy of the newcomer or the vision of the non-conformist, but the forces of inertia, whether in matters of religion, culture, voting or economic stratification have a different result in mind and narrative to go along with it.  From Japan and Australia to the Americas and more traditional societies in between, more connected world is seen as a challenge or perhaps merely an opportunity to seek resonance for fear and hate from the other extreme. The notion of global citizen is still being defined and some see even that as threat.

Thus UNESCO’s current effort to recognize and honor tolerance, non-violence and diversity is timely. You may want to connect and perhaps nominate a worthy candidate for the “UNESCO Mandajet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and non-Violence 2016” (by end of February of the coming year).


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