A world of possibilities
South Africans recently celebrated Freedom Day, and while our country is still in transition and the journey is full of hurdles, we always have high hopes and work together in creating a better tomorrow for all South Africans.
Unfortunately the celebrations came at a time when we are trying to put out the flames of xenophobia. We all stood together to show that these feelings of hostility are not representative of our nation.
The anger of the people in the streets did however force us to take a hard look at what we’re doing to improve the lives of the poor. Even though a lot is happening, clearly it’s not enough. And this made us realise that we shouldn’t just celebrate Freedom Day once a year in April, but that it is a celebration we should nurture and continuously renew. It also made us realise that we should be more tolerant toward one another.
What is tolerance? Robert Green Ingersoll, a 19th-century American politician, once said, ‘Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.’ And the Random House Dictionary defines it as ‘a fair, objective, and permissive attitude towards those whose options, practices, race, religion, nationality differ from one’s own’.
Human beings aren’t born intolerant. If you watch young children play at school, they don’t care about skin colour, gender or how their friends are dressed. They see nothing other than a playmate. It brings to mind the quote of Nelson Mandela: ‘No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.’
Put simply, we can all be a little more tolerant when interacting with others that are different from ourselves. We will go a long way if we claim the same rights for our fellow citizens, or even co-workers, that we claim for ourselves. This implies treating people with respect, even if you don’t share their opinions and values.
Maybe we can all try to embrace differences. The moment we have an attitude of inclusion, a world of possibilities can open up.