By Rev. Father John Damian Adizie, OCD
The world is gradually becoming an intolerable place. Different countries across the world are building walls instead of bridges. The various forms of discri-minations, agitations, terrorism, violence and intolerance across the world has given rise to International Day for Tolerance by UN. This day is celebrated annually on November 16.
Respect and recognition of the rights and beliefs of others is the essence of the celebration. The negative effects of violence and intolerance are taken into consideration. The need for peaceful co-existence are also highlighted.
Intolerance is a form of hatred, rejection and preju-dice which people develop against fellow human be-ings due to perceived differ-ences. There are cultural intolerance, where people reject fellow human beings due to cultural differences. Political intolerance is a situation where people are rejected based on their poli-tical interest; religious in-tolerance is an ugly situat-ion where people are reject-ed and even killed due to their religious beliefs. Ethn-ic and tribal intolerance is a situation where people reject fe-llow human be-ings due to their tribal and ethnic differences. Just to mention few!
Intolerance remains a major problem in most countries. Most of the problems fac-ing the world tod-ay are traceable to intolerance. The American government is building walls instead of bridges due to intolerance. Some people in South Africa have deve-loped a passionate hatred for foreigners in the name of Xenophobia, which is another form of intolerance. Most countries, especially Libya are deporting Niger-ians due to intolerance. A good number of countries in the world are building walls against immigrants and refugees, due to intoleran-ce.
Nigeria’s ruling class finds it difficult to tolerate members of the opposition party. The present administ-ration is yet to reconcile with the Igbos either be-cause they did not get their full vote or because of the IPOB agitations.
Boko Harram, the extre-me Islamic group are not ready to tolerate Western civilization and other hu-man beings whom they see as infidel. The Niger Delta Militants and Avengers are about to suspend their ceasefire agreement with the Federal government due to negligence and into-lerance. IBOP members are not ready tolerate anything that has to do with Nigeria. Through their quit notice, the Arewa Youths have ex-pressed their intolerance against the Igbos in the North.
Some men of God are finding it very difficult to tolerate their fellow men of God due to envy and un-healthy competition. In the name of tribalism, some local Nigerian tribes are busy killing themselves due to intolerance and tribal-ism. Benue State govern-ment has finally passed into law the Anti-open Grazing Bill, which some people have described as a form of intolerance against herds-men; while for the majority of the citizens this is a welcome development and the only way to safeguard their lives and farmlands.
Capitalism contributes to the problem of intolerance. It has widen the gap bet-ween the poor and the rich. The rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. This has given rise to intolerance between the rich and the poor. The rich cannot send their children to public schools which, for them, are meant for the poor.
The rich hardly appro-ves any marriage between the poor and their rich child-ren. They don’t even allow their children to mix up with poor children. When the rich are celebrating, attendance are usually strictly based on invitation. The rich hardly mingles with the poor. For them, birds of similar feath-er flock together.
Nevertheless, a tree cannot make a forest. No one is an island. We need each other. An African adage declares: “I am because we are and because we are therefore I am.”
Tolerance is a courage-ous act. It takes courage to tolerate people, even when it is obvious that they do not meet our standard or exp-ectations. Intolerance, on the other hand, is an act of cowardice. Show me a coward and I will show you a man that does not tolerate fellow human beings.
Tolerance is the only way forward! As St. Paul rightly wrote: “Tolerate one ano-ther and forgive one ano-ther; just as the Lord has forgiven you. Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:13-14).
Discrimination and into-lerance can never solve our problem. Our cultural, po-litical and religious differ-ences notwithstanding we need to tolerate one ano-ther because we belong to one common human race.