Intolerance: The real threat.
Intolerance: The real threat.
Browsing through the news articles and media comments, you could be excused for thinking that the world has gone to hell in a hand-basket. Many commentators seem to despair at the state of the world, the social reactions to events and the seemingly constant barrage of bad news, the inappropriate behaviour of politicians and the seeming increased outrage of the public in response to events.
Amongst all the concerns in the world today, I believe that one of the biggest threats to society is intolerance.
Sure, climate change is happening and we are all going to be affected in some way. Either by doing nothing and suffering the consequences or by making significant lifestyle changes and bearing the costs to mitigate the situation.
But our capacity to overcome many of the large social issues we face today is hampered by intolerance and the fear of “other”. Perhaps we could accept that our personal view is just that, our view. It is only one of nearly 8 billion different outlooks on the world we live in. We shouldn’t be threatened by variety, we should celebrate it.
It seems that society is busy dividing itself into smaller and smaller groups each with its own grievances and outrage. The constant fine-tuning of whom we allow into our select inner circle appears to be creating walls in our society that prevent participation, communication and understanding. We risk isolation based on judgement and exclusion.
There is a drawing that has been around for some time, and I apologise, I have been unable to find the appropriate attribution.
While on the surface this appears that both are right, it could be argued that there is a deeper problem being displayed. Neither person is presenting any supporting evidence to back their claim. The number was painted for a reason, perhaps there are other numbers nearby to reference the orientation. From the point of view of the person who painted the sign, one of the two people arguing is wrong. Maybe both people should stand back, look for other clues or do some research.
In today’s fast-paced world, it seems that few people want to take the time to research things objectively, we just want to be right. People appear quick to form an opinion and claim that opinion as fact. Our mainstream media is now full of opinion pieces and many people are taking these opinions as gospel. I believe that we are increasingly intolerant of people who don't have the same opinion as we do.
We are all different, but we are all people. Our differences can inform and enlighten us, not frighten us.
I am a person, I should not be judged by my gender, skin colour, religion, disability, sexuality or clothing choice.
Rather than defining ourselves with pronouns such as He/Him or She/Her or They/Them, perhaps we should consider the term Person.
True equality in society can never exist until people are valued the same for doing the same work, no matter their gender, age, race or religion. Until disabled people are given the same access to public buildings, services and organisations. Until women can walk topless in public and be regarded with the same indifference that people give topless men. Nor can it exist until men can walk down the street in a dress or bathe their children without judgement or criticism.
We are all guilty of bias and hypocrisy and we all need to treat everybody with courtesy, respect and kindness. Everyone should feel safe in society, anywhere and at any time. Until then, we all have work to do to change our attitudes and behaviour.
No matter what our differences, cut us and we bleed. We all laugh, cry and love. We have so much more in common with each other than the things that separate us, and yet we let these divisions define us.
Rather than squabbling over petty differences, the time has come when we need to be open to new ideas and new ways of thinking to work together in order to survive the increasingly fragile existence that we have on this burning planet. Taking steps to reduce our impact on the environment should be the number one priority for everybody everywhere.
Reducing our excessive reliance on plastics by voting with our dollar to not support manufacturers or retailers who continue to market products in single-use plastic.
Making a conscious decision to reduce our travel distances, the number of journeys or the method of transport we choose to use.
Considering the impact that the clothing industry has on the environment, both in the types of fabric used, and the amount of water and energy used to create them.
Choosing a more natural path might seem a simple step we can all take, but it appears not to have the social acceptance that it deserves.
In my experience, naturists seem to be more in tune with a lifestyle of reduced consumption and a lower environmental impact, but society seems to have an almost pathological fear of social nudity, and the wider messages of the naturist philosophy are drowned out by the screams of people who still can’t tell the difference between simple nudity and sexual activities. For many in society, naturists are “them” and “other” and are not understood or tolerated as having ideas that may be worth considering for the welfare of society.
We need to work and plan together as a whole race of people to survive on this planet, and yet we are letting our petty squabbles get in the way of meaningful change. We are too busy fighting about the gender of our athletes or how someone chooses to identify. We are turning our backs on people fleeing from violence or oppression, leaving them to drown as they make desperate journeys to try and make a better life. We are intolerant of differences. We are reluctant to change. We are running out of time.
If we could wave a magic wand and get rid of intolerance, then perhaps we might have a chance. I won’t hold my breath.
Thank you for reading, have a comfortable day.