November 16 is the International Day for Tolerance. It seems as though a day of tolerance has never been more apropos. At the same time, with politicians and journalists openly calling to remove dissenters from society and even to “burn them down” because “if there are survivors….they will do it again,” it seems as though tolerance has never been more wishful thinking.
Intolerance seems to come in waves. Whenever intolerance rises beyond a certain level, violence breaks out in one form or another. Now it seems we’re quickly heading toward another peak in intolerance and unless we handle it better than before, it will erupt just as past waves have. And if history can teach us anything, it is that the peaks grow higher each time, and the resulting violence more horrific.
We need to understand that human nature isn’t growing more tolerant, but more extremist and fanatic. As a result, when one side speaks of annihilating the other side, as is the case today, it will attempt to do so physically. There is no question of if, but only of when. When both sides speak in these terms, it will lead to war.
Today, speaking about anything that resembles friendship, amicability, togetherness, or even merely tolerance arouses forgiving smiles, at best. More likely, such words will be met with due sarcasm because nothing is less realistic today than to ask people to be tolerant to one another.
Moreover, as time goes by, it will become even more unlikely. Human nature is dynamic, evolving toward increasing individualism, and therefore intolerance toward others. Today, individualism has reached such levels that there are more families with one parent living at home than with two, and nearly 30 percent of households are single-person households. In such a state, is it hard to imagine that many people don’t want anyone around them?
If this trend remains, the American democracy will soon be a thing of the past. To avert what seems like an inevitable fate, we must adopt radical thinking: Each of us must realize that the person I want dead, the person who disagrees with me, actually holds my lifeline. Without that person, I will not be who I am, what I am, and I will not be at all. It does not mean I have to agree with a person I can’t stand, but simply that our disagreement is what keeps us going, and it takes two to disagree.
Nature, which develops all creations, fashions them into plants and plant-eating animals, or animals that eat plants and animals that eat other animals. All of them depend on one another, though clearly none of them particularly likes the other. Likewise, human nature drives all of us to develop. It fashions us into different people, who clearly don’t like each other, but who are dependent on each other just as animals are dependent on each other for their survival. We wouldn’t have fascists if we didn’t have communists; we wouldn’t have secular if we didn’t have religious, and we wouldn’t have moderates if we didn’t have extremists. We are defined by what we aren’t no less, if not more, than we are defined by what we are.
The difference between animals and humans is that we can see, analyze, and appreciate the fabric that nature has created. If we could look at the big picture and see that we, humanity, form a diverse fabric that is just as beautiful as nature’s wildlife, we wouldn’t be at each other’s throats. On the contrary, we would appreciate and value the differences, which we would then refer to as diversity.
Everything is needed for its own time. All the views, even the most extreme, need their day in the sun. In the end, they deepen and broaden our understanding of ourselves as human beings. But now, I believe we’ve seen enough of the negative side of human nature, and it’s time to harness the diversities between us to the benefit of all of humanity. Humankind has championed countless ideologies. Now it’s time to champion the ideology of unity, which states that whatever you believe in and support, keep it, it is yours, and add it to the fabric of humanity. Only a society that places unity as its top value can tolerate diverse views within it, give them their rightful place, and use them to strengthen and improve all of society.