المجلس العالمي للتسامح والسلام

Why we all need more Tolerance

Deep cracks have formed in our beautiful world. Blood streams from its gaping wounds.

We endure the horror of inhumanity every day. Videos, photos, murder, and propaganda corrode our global village like poison.

Radicals sow hate and try to turn us against each other. They darken the sun and silence the happy laughter of children.
Some promote hatred through words while others are ready to kill. These people act out against different religions, ethnic minorities, and races. Citizens who embrace such intolerance smash our globe into broken pieces. It often seems as if we are not one world, but polarized groups fighting each other. Such people who are filled with prejudice endanger love and peace. And what about Donald Trump and hate in America?

Our whole world suffers, particularly in the Islamic countries, in a wave of violence and terror. A self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (IS, ISIS, ISIL or in Arabic “Daesh”) exiles, enslaves, and kills Christians and Shiites in Syria and Iraq. People are murdered in Manchester and London. In a shopping street civilians are killed by a truck in Stockholm. A peaceful Christmas market is attacked in the heart of Berlin. Terrorists force Christians to become Muslims and burn down churches as well as Shiite mosques. In Nigeria hundreds of schoolgirls are kidnapped, raped, and coerced into Islam by Boko Haram. Assassins kill students in the name of Allah in Kenya. Extremists slay an old priest during a Sunday mass in a church in Normandy. Hundreds are bombed in Bagdad or Pakistan.

We have also seen peaceful people mercilessly killed at the Promenade des Anglais at the seaside of Nice, and at the Atatürk airport or in a club in Istanbul. Terrorists shoot caricaturists, Jewish shoppers, and civilians in restaurants and at a concert hall in Paris. Travellers are bombed at the airport and in a subway in Brussels. Violent extremists execute inno- cent people at the beach in Tunisia, in San Bernardino in California or in Jakarta. Shiites and Sunnites kill each other in Pakistan and Libya solely because they do not share the same exact beliefs regarding the Holy Qur’an.

This brutal killing ‘in the name of Allah’ shocks us all and there doesn’t seem to be an end to the violence. These acts promote hate against Islam and every one of the world’s 1.7 billion Muslims, and they have propelled Shiites and Sunnis against one another.

How can we, as normal citizens, contain or end this killing as well as the hate of those who are intolerant? What are we to do and where do we start?

What kind of world are we living in today and what kind of world do we want to live in with our children tomorrow? 193 countries are growing ever closer together into a global village.

Although we perceive distances to be shrinking and although we exchange information via the internet within seconds and travel easily to foreign countries, we have largely remained strangers to each other.

We focus exclusively on the underlying differences of our unique faith traditions and cultures instead of actually living with each other and embracing diversity within our countries.

Dynamic globalization focuses on progress in economics, technology and communication.

We must continue to develop an interpersonal globalization comprised of greater tolerance, and love of humanity in the twenty-first century. Only then can we soon nine billion human beings – regardless of all national, cultural and religious roots – live happily and more peacefully together on our shrinking globe.

It’s imperative that we adopt the mindset, “No longer everyone for himself, but all of us together.”

In our narrow, yet so different, world we urgently need the humanization of globalization and a world ethos in practice. We need the Codes of Tolerance. We need more love.

The Global Tolerance Initiative is a plea to you, and  the passive and silent majority, to actively promote more tolerance and respect for other religions, ethnic minorities and races. Regardless of our locations we are all invited to become members of a new and responsible global world elite, in order to spread kindness with small gestures and moral courage. We need greater warmth, kindness and love of humanity in our common global village.

At the same time we have to reject any kind of religious and political extremism. There cannot be any tolerance for intolerance! We have to contain the forces of evil and the preachers of hate by using a clever grand strategy comprised of both hard and soft elements of peacemaking. Promoting active tolerance is an essential element of this strategy.

Each of us can place a piece into the jigsaw puzzle of tolerance. In all parts of the world, made up of numerous diverse cultures and religions, we can easily find countless small and large examples of best practices regarding how we can better live together. We have started to collect global best practices of tolerance, which show us that tolerance is feasible. Through actively participating on local, national and international levels, together we can strengthen love and peace. Let us follow these best practices to diminish evil.

The Codes of Tolerance show us how we can all work together to create a better world.

There are specific rules for parents, educators and schools, religious leaders, the media and journalists, political decision-makers, in sports and culture and for all of us. The implementation of the Codes can effectively improve the coexistence of different religions, ethnic minorities and races while stopping the destruction by the extremists.

The Codes of Tolerance are our humanistic answer as world citizens struggling to end the violence of the preachers of hatred.

Let us not complain that there are radicals who seek to demolish those of other religious traditions, minorities, for- eigners and other races as these intolerant practices occur at all times and in all places around the world. We should be ashamed of our passivity which grants the extremists space to nurture evil.

Reconciliation with ethnic minorities is an important aspect of active tolerance. It is important for internal peace to be the main focus in countries such as Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Mali or Nigeria. The focus must be centered on the small examples of reconciliation between one human being and another.

  • Will the few radicals dominate our world because the majority of our global population remains silent and looks away?
  • Which moral values should we teach our children and how can we leave them a better world with more tolerance, respect and love?
  • Is it possible to find a common basis, a world ethos, for Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Shiites and Sunnis?
  • How can we avoid a clash of the different religions and cultures?
  • How can minorities be reconciled and integrated? What should individual citizens do and how?

On closer inspection, we can already see the traces of Codes of Tolerance in all world religions and in the most diverse global cultures. We seem to have forgotten these golden nuggets of world culture which have been forced into the back- ground by the vociferous radicals. We find these gems in Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism along with the appeal to respect, love, and protect the inner and inalienable dignity of all human beings created by God. As Pope John Paul II preached, “The shortest way to God for a human being is another human being.”

With a global grassroots movement we should now boldly and openly work for a better world order of tolerance.

Thus, we can also overcome moral relativism, leave behind the vacuum of indifference and neutralize the poison of hatred. Whether one is an optimist, a pessimist, a believing Christian, a Muslim or a free spirit is irrelevant. Only if we advocate for the improvement of our world, by making many small and progressive steps, will we bring about the positive changes necessary to put the minority of radicals in their place.

Let us not wait for the United Nations (UN) or our politicians. Let us, as global citizens, start making the difference we truly need in this world.
Let us show our children that a better world is possible through our immediate efforts.
Let us learn the Golden Rules of Tolerance from the world religions.
Let us build, from this book of tolerance, a new and personal chapter with more respect and love for humanity.
Love is tolerance – tolerance is love.
Let us re-conquer the world so we can rid it of radicals and impeach the hate mongers for when we do our global village will once again be brimming with love, respect and tolerance.
Now you, dear reader, are warmly invited. Join in and put your piece of the jigsaw puzzle into the world mosaic of tolerance!

Let us work together to create a better World 3.0 for our children and for ourselves. Let us contain hate and killings by adopting a new global policy regarding the active and imme- diate promotion of tolerance.

The Need for Codes of Tolerance
How can we stop terrorists and contain extremists?
Where is the space for tolerance and respect and for love and peace in our global village?
What rules have the wise leaders and prophets of our ancient world religions given us for the journey, so that we might be able to live together peacefully in harmony and respect?

On the basis of which principles, rules, guidelines can the Codes of Tolerance and best practices promote respect for all religions, ethnic minorities and races?
The most pertinent question to ask is: What can I, as a citizen of the global village, do to contribute to a harmonious and amicable world?
If one were to reduce the more than 7.5 billion citizens of the world to a global village consisting of only 100 persons, there would be 61 Asians, 15 Africans, 13 Americans (North and South Americans), and 11 Europeans living in it. There would be 52 women and 48 men. 80 of them are people of color and only 20 are white. Out of the 100 people there are 34 Christians, 23 Muslims, 13 Hindus, 7 Buddhists, 11 representatives of other minor religions – only 0.2 percent of them Jews – as well as 10 agnostics and 2 atheists. We are not a homogeneous village but a global village of diversity.
All human beings in our globalized world are increasingly dependent on our neighbors and as such none of us can avoid one another. The internet and the modern means of transportation erase the physical borders between cultures and often fuse them. We are an interconnected and vulnerable world in which the major the issues such as climate change or terrorism can only be solved if all actors work together. We have a common destiny and a shared responsi- bility. Now we must also grow together as individuals and respect our many differences.

When we board a plane we experience this microcosm right in front of our eyes. In an aircraft we encounter a meeting of our global village ten kilometers above the earth. We travel to foreign countries, see different faces, cities and customs, hear unique ideas and experience the diversity surrounding us. Many of us are working together with people from other cultures and this broadens our perspective and outlook on life. Our schools and universities are also becoming more international and colorful. This is diversity in practice and experience.

In our global village one can sometimes feel lost, lonely and insecure because our home might seem increasingly foreign to us. The number of events and changes is rapidly increas- ing. The familiar, the stable, and everything that once suggested certainty are fading. Are we no longer able to cope?

We all want to be loved, appreciated, and respected. None of us want to be discriminated against, or even attacked, because of the color of our skin, our nationality or religion.

We demand respect and tolerance from strangers who in turn experience us as strangers. In return we also must meet every stranger with respect and tolerance.

John Lennon has expressed our deep humanitarian wish for a harmonious world in his song Imagine – the dream of love and “a world to be one.” Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Hindemith’s World of Harmony resonate with our deepest longing for a caring and peaceful world through musical emo-tions.
The French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry pleaded for more humanity in the middle of the Second World War. In his masterpiece The Little Prince he beautifully wrote, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. […] You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”

We must seek ways to stop the propagandists of hatred and violence, who aim to wage war against other religions and ethnic minorities, and thus strengthen the power of love. However, we do almost nothing to accomplish this.
We prefer to go shopping or sit comfortably in front of our televisions instead of actively fighting for a better world of harmony and love. We keep silent, we sleep and give up. Some of us have become world pessimists, silent free spirits, or just materialists without responsibility.

We ignore our responsibilities as global citizens and we do not want to interfere because we are anxious or just complacent and take the easy way out.
We are the global bourgeoisie; an idle, passive mass.

Therefore, by doing nothing and remaining inert, we are turning the earth upside down and leave it to a few resolute radicals, maybe just one percent, to seize power. Thus the numerically small evil dominates although we are the vast majority.

The world belongs to us, intellectually and materially. However, the terrorists and preachers of hatred capture our atten- tion with their spectacular violent actions and consequently the news headlines, tweets and TV cameras.
We want to create more peace and love, while they long for more confrontation, hatred, violence and even war.
We perform good deeds and find no recognition in the media.

When extremists attempt to spread evil they receive public attention with absolute certainty. This is the status quo every- where around the globe.
Who are “we” and who are “they”? “We” can be the believing Muslims in Pakistan, Jews in Jerusalem, or committed Christians and Buddhists in New York. “They” are also Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

However, the major difference between “we” and “they” is that they have forgotten the messages of tolerance which are rooted in their religions, or per- haps they are frustrated nihilists. Most of the time these extremists know very little about their religion.

Analyses show that they cite only the few militant sentences from the thick holy books and simply ignore the messages of their prophets, which proclaim the obligation to peace and love of humanity. Some extremists want to establish theocracy on earth, even against the will of others.

In the course of history there have been repeated efforts to create a symbiosis between state power and religion, where the state is viewed as a totalitarian dictate of a holy book. The power struggles which took place in Christian Europe for a very long period are often forgotten. Today, this goal is pursued by the Taliban in Afghanistan, ISIL in Iraq and Syria and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

The West, but also many Muslim countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Pakistan and Indonesia, have decided in favor of a separation of state and religion. The idea of a homogenous theocracy which governs and judges the lives of the people, contradicts religions’ doctrines, including the Qur’an. Devout Muslims, Christians and Jews believe that at the end of their lives only God will judge them. Whoever believes deeply and fervently also respects those of other religious traditions because – despite all differences – one’s faith is oriented toward a higher being. It is the common belief that God has created all human beings in His image and likeness. Tolerance means love for God’s work.

The establishment of a totalitarian theocracy on earth, built to favor one set of humans, strongly contradicts the original code, God’s code of creation: the diversity of life.

He presents Himself in billions of different human beings and in hundreds of thousands of different flowers and animals which inhabit our world. Numerous scientists speak of “biodiversity.” The original meaning of life is the creation of diversity and individuality. It should be clear to whoever believes in God and his creation of life that God created and wants diversity. Diversity is part of creation and the DNA of life; it is life.

Two further major trends influence the struggle for a harmonious world order. First, globalization in which – through technology, culture, and economy – our world is connected ever more tightly. Second, the fight against perceived foreign infiltration and the striving for a uniform set of norms and rules that govern society and in which, according to the will of a few extremists, all social life should be dominated by an ideology. There is a conflict between an open, plural and tolerant concept of the world and a hierarchical, totalitarian and closed concept of the world.

This conflict worsens when one religion, one family clan, one political party or ethnic group decides what others should think without consulting the people they are trying to force their beliefs upon. To oversimplify, it boils down to people’s respect for diversity and individuality or a preference for dictatorship with standardized people. It is a matter of freedom or submission, as well as our daily, personal “courage to freedom” (Franz-Ludwig Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg).

The command to be tolerant demands that we live together peacefully with other religions, races and ethnic minorities regardless of all differences. No one has the right to impose his religion or lifestyle on another. This free and open order of tolerance must also be actively defended against the powers of intolerance.

Immanuel Kant, in his famous writing On Eternal Peace, agrees by stating,

“Peace is not a natural state, but must be created.”

Furthermore, outreach to and reconciliation with (former) enemies is required.
The American philosopher Eric Hoffer once expressed this sentiment, “A war is only won if one has transformed a defeated enemy into a friend.” The realization that we need active tolerance and reconciliation for peace is not new but is still not effectively implemented in everyday politics.
The essential “soft” elements of peacemaking are still marginalized through the hard, military instruments. We want to create peace with weapons but this is only one means among many. Can peace ultimately be achieved by the use of force and if so, at what price?
We spend hundreds of billions on internal and external security but how many billions for the necessary promotion of tolerance, respect and reconciliation?
Without proactive politicies for peace and reconciliation peace will not be possible.
Only a well-planned and consequent double strategy of power and diplomacy, combined with reconciliation, promises success.

Only on these two pillars can world peace rest permanently and securely. The souls of human beings, the suffering of the oppressed and their violated dignity, are forgotten in unilateral and cold politics of power. This power cannot reach the core of peacemaking in the hearts of humans.

World peace can only be created if we use power to contain evil while simultaneously working to achieve the dissemination of worldwide tolerance through a new, fresh double strategy. Let us call this strategy World 3.0. We need the protective hawk as well as the dove with its message of peace. We all need an active vision and must embrace the Codes of Tolerance.

All of us – Muslims, Christians, and Jews – are brothers and sisters in the belief in one God. Whoever does not believe in God or any supernatural being is also a creature of God and therefore deserves equal respect.
The political concept of killing civilians for religious or political reasons is contrary to the teachings of all prophets. It is a perversion of faith, just like the Crusades and the witch burnings in the Middle Ages.
Today we need an active movement to be pushed forward by responsible world citizens.
We need more tolerance and respect. However, we will not be able to live happily with our neighbors until we defend our global basic values and curb evil with love of humanity instead of hatred.
We need to disseminate this message into the souls and hearts of our children and let them grow up as tolerant global citizens.
We need a global vision and a soul.
We need moral values that are accepted worldwide and we desperately need the Codes of Tolerance as well as best practices and their permanent dis- semination. All of us must engage actively for more tolerance.
We must exemplify and propagate the Codes of Tolerance. We must improve the world with our contributions, no matter how grand or small.
We have power, influence, and a great deal of creativity.
Let us use these gifts we were born with to spread goodness, kindness and tolerance.
We must overcome our indolence and passivity because we owe this to our children and to ourselves.

I appeal to the responsible elite in the 193 countries of our earth to finally take personal responsibility for the victory of tolerance and respect.

Let us create a better world of harmony and respect for our children. As elite we not only have the choice but also the duty to become active and positively engage our communities.
If not us then who?
In the times of globalization, humanity must not be marginalized or it will perish.

From the book “Love is Tolerance” by Hubertus Hoffmann

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