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Saturday, 17 September 2011

Let Tolerance Rule

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Last week I blogged about peace inspired by the 9/11 ten year anniversary. This week I wanted to explore how we can fight a common enemy of peace, which is intolerance. I know I have a big fight on my hands but at least I'll try. As a teacher and Form Tutor, I do sometimes have to deal with situations where I challenge my students to be tolerant to their peers and teachers. At the the start of last week, I was asking students in my Form group how they thought their first week of the new academic year had gone. I was expecting them to tell me about how well they have got on in their various subjects having now moved up a year group. But all they wanted to talk about was teacher-bashing.

Teachers do sometimes divide opinion in this part of the world as they're not always the most popular people in the world for reasons I'm not sure of. Whilst some people owe their teachers a great deal of indebtedness for help in steering them in the right direction others simply don't have any good word to say about them. Quite different from my own experience growing up in Nigeria where I held my teachers in high regard. Perhaps an experience I may have a lot to write about the day I finally give up teaching. Anyway I advised my students they don't have to like a teacher as a person but be tolerant, respectful and go into every lesson with the mindset to learn which is more important than the teacher. The bottom line of my advise was synonymous with the popular mantra 'focus on the message, not the messenger'.

The reality is that as humans we are all different; in beliefs, culture, religion etc and those differences are very much at interplay to define who we are. These inherent differences very much influences our thinking, opinions and our view of the world. Sadly the lack of recognition and respect for these differences is what often stokes up the fire of intolerance that burns deeply in the way opinions are sometimes expressed. I used to visit a popular Nigerian social website but gave up due to the fact that discussions were often times characterised by mudslinging, name calling and online behaviours bordering on bullying. I just wonder why the voice of reason is sometimes drowned by war of words with people you've never met in your life and would probably never meet. When I express opinions here, I don't expect every reader to agree with me but as long those views are not personal and deals with issues rather than emotions then that's fine by me.

I don't underestimate the power of social media which in reality I see as the real true democracy. It empowers individuals regardless of where they live or who they are with the freedom to express their views to as far an audience in a way as never been experienced before. But that freedom also comes with responsibility. The responsibility to ensure that views are kept as civil as possible and avoid using innuendos. New media also has its weakness especially with the fact that written comments and views about issues could be misconstrued and may well lead to rubbing up people the wrong way.

The blogosphere in the last week has been somewhat charged-up in a way that has left a bitter taste in my mouth. One good thing blogging has exposed me to is the new breed of intelligent Nigerians with a refreshing energy to stake their claim in cyberspace. I hope that same energy is not wasted on personality wars but rather channeled into positive attitudes that will be badly sought after if and when the intolerant ruling class may have been long gone (wishful thinking perhaps).

I wasn't born an open-minded person neither do I believe anyone was ~ I could be wrong though. However, my life's journey has taught me a great deal not to expect too much from other people because that often leads to tears. The truth is that not everyone will appreciate what you do or what you have to say. But then what does it mean to be open-minded without being tolerant to other people's views and opinions? Let me make it clear I don't claim to be a fountain of tolerance as I'm sure people have their own views about what it means to them. But I strongly believe the blogosphere will be a better place where views are diverse, which we may not always agree with but at least are respected and appreciated. One love :)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I do appreciate your post in the spirit in which it is intended. But sometimes, tolerance can be a misunderstood word. Some people (not you) take it to mean anything goes. For instance a blogger with a public blog puts up a post with a picture that says "homosexuals are possessed by demons" and then claims her views should be 'tolerated'. Please my brother, where is the tolerance in expressing hate like that?
    Where is her (christian as she calls it) duty to do unto others as she would have done unto her? Where is the sensitivity to other human beings who have done nothing to her but to simply exist and share the planet that we all live in?

    Are we to tolerate it when one group of human beings persecute others? My answer is no. We are all human beings who deserve love and respect, not hate. If someone is hating, I will not tolerate their views. I will however try to raise their awareness and call them to the error of their ways. It is then up to them to continue their gospel of hate or repent their ways. When we tolerate hatred, we become like the haters and nothing changes for the oppressed group of people being persecuted. Open mindedness is another concept that gets twisted. Being open minded does not mean we get to hear people spouting hatred and keep quiet. It means you take a stand and show them that what they are doing is wrong.

    Thank you for sharing and for your wise comments on my blog.

  3. Honestly, i was also left with a bitter taste in my mouth at the way things went in blogsville last week. I didn't expect it at all and was quite surprised.
    Generally speaking, I have respect for other's opinions and also expect same from them. I believe that if anyone is to correct me or point out certain things to me for whatever reason, then it should be done in a civil manner especially if i didn't intend to hurt them or start a fight. My observations though.

    Intolerance is really a barrier to peace and I wonder if we all understand it or if it's that we all have our different views on what it means. Anyway, thanks for this. Hopefully differences will be put aside and we'll all move on in peace.

  4. hey, you've been MIA for a while. hope you're good. I just tagged you for an award. pls check my blog for details



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