November 16 is UN International Day of Tolerance. Given how divisive so much public discourse has become in the U.S. and elsewhere recently I think it’s more important than ever to remind ourselves we have to foster the ability to communicate patiently with people—even if our beliefs and viewpoints are diametrically opposed.
The idea that one group has a monopoly on the truth has been proven false time and time again. We are each shaped by the uniqueness of our experiences. The point of universal human rights is to create an environment in which people can peacefully coexist regardless of difference, and ideally we can learn to celebrate the endless diversity that creates the human experience. It’s easy to be tolerant of something when you agree with it. The true test is allowing for viewpoints, ideas and ways of living and operating that seem foreign or maybe even wrong. Standing up for what you believe while allowing others to do the same is the mark of an enlightened culture. I hope days like this can serve as a reminder of the ideal society we’re all striving to create—one of peace, sanity and tolerance.