The world is a global village today; the coexistence of diverse groups of people has given it a rich and unique flavour. A world such as this, requires harmony and mutual respect among all its stakeholders, which can only be achieved if the values of tolerance, acceptance and empathy are given supreme importance.
The word 'tolerance' has vast implications. It refers not only to the willingness to accept and be receptive to diversity of race, gender, culture, religion, opinion, and ideologies but also encompasses the ability to love, respect, understand and appreciate the rich variety that we see around us. The lack of tolerance therefore would lead to strife and violence and create an atmosphere of fear, distrust and insecurity, none of which would augur well for the future of humanity. Tolerance, therefore, helps to re-establish our faith and hold on to it.
The International Day for Tolerance came into being on November 16, 1995 and marked Mahatma Gandhi's 125th birth anniversary. The day is dedicated to strengthening the key values of tolerance by promoting mutual understanding and respect and, generating public awareness to the dangers of intolerance. The modern world does not have a better example of tolerance and acceptance than the Mahatma, hence, the day is a fitting tribute to the ideals and principles that he advocated and lived by.
The world today battles a multitude of challenges. These extend to regional and communal strife, poverty, illiteracy, terrorism, xenophobia, environmental issues etc. Our primary focus should be to unite and face these challenges together, instead of being divided on frivolous grounds. This brings us to the question of finding a way forward.
Educating our younger generation on the basic fundamentals of humanity and instilling the right values in them is an essential requirement. They must learn that others have exactly the same rights that they would want for themselves, whether they like it or not. Encouragement must be given when the young strive for independence in thought. Critical thinking, problem solving, the art of negotiation, are skills, if inculcated at a young age will lead to a far more inclusive world where diversity will not be an excuse for conflict, but a treasure that will enrich us. Being able to look at the larger picture will help us to move in the desired direction.
Let us not limit the celebration of the spirit of tolerance to just one day. The International Day of Tolerance should serve only as a reminder to celebrate the spirit of tolerance throughout the year.
Mrs. Aparajita Pal
Headmistress, Middle Section