Sep 15, 2010

"What Is...?" Wednesday

I read a book for Harper One recently and reviewed it last Monday. It was a good book too but I lost a friend of eight years and it broke my heart...Why? Because I chose to be tolerant and see the world of Islam through the Prophet Muhammad's eyes by reading this book. Sadly, that wasn't the only thing that happened, I got angry tweets about it on Twitter as well because the author was disliked so much... Am I going to stop I going to stop reviewing...NO. I always expected to get crap for being a Pagan, I however, did not expect crap for being tolerant and understanding. So here's today's "What Is Wednesday" post....

Religious Intolerance

Religious intolerance is intolerance against another's religious beliefs or practices.
The mere statement on the part of a religion that its own beliefs and practices are correct and any contrary beliefs incorrect does not in itself constitute intolerance (i.e., ideological intolerance). There are many cases throughout history of established religions tolerating other practices. Religious intolerance, rather, is when a group (e.g., a society, religious group, non-religious group) specifically refuses to tolerate practices, persons or beliefs on religious grounds (i.e., intolerance in practice).

It looks like intolerance is the new trend and a more horrible trend for the world's future can hardly be imagined. How might this poisonous trend be stopped? Fear and suspicion are powerful forces, but we have resources to combat them: clear consistent thinking; specific  principles based on equal respect for human dignity and understanding.

Because intolerance is  caused by fear, we also need to confront it on the emotional level, using everything we know about the workings of emotions such as fear, sympathy, disgust, and respect. One thing we know is that demonization of "the other" is far easier if people know nothing much about this "other," and have never been encouraged to think what the world looks like from that different viewpoint. In order to move beyond a climate of fear, then, we need more than good principles: we need the cultivation of sympathy, and therefore we need approaches through education and understanding, not just through argument and hatred.


Angela said...

My heart goes out to you. I don't understand this fashion trend of hating Islam because of extremists and the tragedy of 9/11. I have a strong dislike for extremists of any religion or spiritual path, but that doesn't become the spokesperson of that particular religion or spiritual path! If one believes a person shouldn't practice their beliefs just because they disagree, said person should not be allowed to practice their beliefs either. How would they feel about that?

AlphaBetsy said...

I'm so sorry that you are having to deal with all that negativity for being tolerant and open. Last year at work I proposed to the diversity council that we could do an educational series of speakers (from the local college) on various religions to promote tolerance. I was shocked by how closed they were to the idea. In the end they told me they would go to HR to see if they would approve and I never heard another word. I thought it was sad that a diversity education group was so afraid to broach what I consider a very important topic. There is so much fear regarding religious differences that I think could be lessened by education and information. I was just so dissappointed.

fay said...

Hang in there! You are right. Don't back down from your beliefs. Religious intolerance is ugly and hurtful.

Mejis said...

I was having a discussion with my sister about Islam. She is very Christian and against anything different. She'd have a cow if she knew I was pagan. Anyway, I tried to explain to her that the terrorists are Islamic extremists and not followers of true Islam. She didn't want to hear it. Sadly there are too many intolerant people in the world. *sigh*

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