Tolerance – The Basis for Pluralism and Diversity

“Tolerance – The ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with.”

I have posted similarly about this before.

Tolerance sounds nice and easy and important and altogether a desirable behaviour or mindset.
It is not easy, at all.
It is important and desirable.

Tolerance, as the definition in the Oxford Dictionary so nicely makes clear means to endure something one does not  agree with – or dislikes even. As human beings many, I’d say, more than 50% of most of the population of any region in this world, are raised to certain ideals and rules that they are expected to fulfill or conform with, often no matter what.

The sad and scientifically proven fact is that many people often become sick in mind and body just because of that. The patriarchal society in particular, for example, expects men to be always on the alert, always superior, always cool, calm and collected although that is neither human nor really ‘manly’.

In consequence much more men than women suffer from alcoholism, are addicted to smoking – or worse.

Human history alas is also full of results of the lack of tolerance and the reasons for it.

It seems that many human beings are easily scared by phenomena or appearances that  seem strange or unusual. The idea being that strangeness might mean danger – or at least a more or less subtle way to call ones own being into question.

The sometimes dreadful results of that kind of mindset are wars, pogroms and mass massacres of groups or peoples or tribes that seem to threaten the established order or ideals.

This can happen in everyday life too. When many people are convinced a  certain way of life is the only healthy way – and someone else deviates from that.

I make the plea here, once again, as always: Let’s tolerate anything that is inside the range of the Human Rights Declaration – and create more peace on this earth – every day.

Open Letter to the US Democratic Party

drawing of USA map as a shape

(I sent the following to the Democratic Party of the United States and its Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer:)

“Ladies and gentlemen, hello esteemed party of long standing and its representatives [Hello Mr Schumer,], for lack of a more personal[/formal] address,

I am a German who lives in Austria. I am extremely concerned about how things seem to be in your nation/country.
I am also very surprised to learn that the democratic party seems to be bent on supporting D. Trumps 2nd run for office?
Are none of you smart enough to see the signs?
He was on the brink of overthrowing (albeit rather clumsily the 1st time) a democratic parliament only a couple of months ago! Hitler and his 3rd Reich were almost the same! He failed the first time and even went to prison for a while. Then, he tried again. I hope you know what dreadful and cruel results that had!
Do you not know history well enough?
Do you really believe that a nation such as the U.S. would never be in danger of becoming a real dictatorship? History – if only outside the US – should be able to teach: Ever since mankind ‘invented’ the concept of democracy around 2000 years ago in Greece, Europe, history has shown us again and again and again that *no country is safe* if its parties and population do not watch out.
Greed and the decision to do as one pleases and disregard others, the community at large, are eternally there, alongside other human traits.
I would earnestly and seriously ask you as well as your and your party’s supporters to reconsider and unite behind a president such as Joe Biden: Free of most of the more mundane shortcomings (be that drink, adultery or worse, please excuse this rather realistic yet blunt mention) as far as I can tell, he has great plans and he and his supporters should see your party indeed united!
I am sorry that I feel like saying: “Shame on you to be so careless about this government – or D. Trump’s so obvious plans!” Have you forgotten that the majority of supreme court justices have been named by him?
I would a little pathetically declare: “Wake up.” (Sorry, here comes the blunt version: “Wake up, d…n it.”)
PLEASE!
D. Trump has caused so much unnecessary pain and suffering as a president the first time around!
Your country needs fresh impulses to bridge gaps – not create ever deeper rifts.
Have a heart and say no to more greed and short-sightedness!
Countries all around the globe are painfully dependent on US (foreign) policies.
Watch out, be smart and careful! This may be your last chance, really.
Kind Regards”


Author’s note: The tone of this letter is rather less businesslike or formal or polite than I have used on similar occasions.
I feel the matter to be urgent. I hope to catch the attention of the politicians concerned – as well as others who might be able to do something directly – this way, better, in this case.
The idea being of course that instead of first caring about their own interests, the democratic party politicians who recently refused support will think again: D. Trump whose name I do not really like to bring up at all, has already started his own alternative to Twitter. From day 1 he had and still has enough wealthy supporters who are interested much more in their bank accounts than anything else. Underestimating ‘enemies’ is foolishness, as the old saying has it:
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
See also the documentary on D. Trumps life and background broadcast on PBS, created by award-winning documentary producer Michael Kirk, for details.

‘Reading the signs’: In archaeology as well as in history, journalism, psychology or in criminology one thing you learn early, if the teaching is of any use at all:
Gather your material carefully, check back with existing facts and start putting a line of reasoning together that fits all the facts.
Anything else will not hold water.

“The Sabbath Is for Man” = Rules Are for People

Peace pagoda Nepal
World Peace Pagoda – Nepal

Rules and the law often are taken in cases of dispute among people, businesses or just neighbours, as a means to ‘fight’ for what one feels to be a right.
One’s own and individual right to do or be as one pleases.

To me, raised by parents who took ethics as well as clear thinking seriously and thus the enlightenment, the following adage of the bible is a fine example of how to treat rules:

The bible, large and ancient book of wisdom has it like this: Jesus as a grown-up and increasingly famous and respected preacher and scribe one day was asked about picking corn on the sabbath.
Many of my readers may know already that among Jews the sabbath is and was a strict holiday on Saturdays each week. To be observed with total obedience to the rule that no work whatsoever was to be done that day.
That’s what makes the answer so special, in those times.

His answer is recorded in Mark, chapter 2:

2:27 And he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath;
(The Jerusalem Bible translation)

Pure and simple this means that rules are there to make life better and easier among human beings, not to be observed at any cost even the risk of losing health or lives.
He goes on to say:

2:28 the Son of Man is master even of the sabbath’.

That’s one reason why I like the idea that rules are originally meant as a ‘crutch’ or a framework to support.
Not as walls or fences to divide, separate and make enemies. In my opinion the sense of a rule and the exact facts of the case should be taken into account. As well as a close look at people concerned and their needs, to try and find a way to live better and peacefully together in this world.
Peace in small matters can spread – to the larger issues and arguments among nations to eventually be solved without war.

“To Kill a Mockingbird”

photo of north american mockingbird
courtesy Wikimedia commons (R. Hagerty)

“To Kill a Mockingbird” – is the title of the Pulitzer-award-winning novel by American writer Harper Lee. The mockingbird of the title is used in the story as an image to describe how cruel it is to kill such a bird / creature:
These birds are there singing and thus providing joy to all who hear them, solely.

The death of the 13-year-old in Vienna the other day is dreadful.

It is tragic too, that these things happen at all. Although statistics show that rates are sinking at the moment, each and everyone of them is one too many.

My heart goes out to the parents and relations of such victims.

The story I mention contains more: It not only deals with killing, literally and figuratively.

It makes abundantly clear how dreadful the killing of any innocent creature actually is – by slander (‘word of mouth’) or actual deed.

Let’s not confuse issues. But be strict to any perpetrator of a crime, of any nationality.

 

Taxes…?!

cafe and post office peaceful people walking

Everybody always complains about taxes: money the government gets from income or actual wealth. Some make it a point and feel extremely fine when they even swindle the government out of taxes, as if they were a modern hero, a ‘Robin-Hood’-type…

But those who complain the most or even put their money into companies or banks outside the state they made it in, are those that benefit most by stability, infrastructure, general level of education or innovations. Innovations based on creativity which is much more probable when the surroundings are calm and secure and ‘knowledgeable’ enough.

The countries in the world with the highest tax rates at the same time are the most stable, secure and – compared – social in terms of healthcare, care for the elderly or the streets you walk in at night… you name it.

Before the civil society was ‘invented’ based on the concept of democracy, in Europe the so-called ‘feudalistic system’ was in place: no working hours, almost no social security in terms of laws, except severe – or not so severe – recommendations, greed and selfishness almost unhampered by law, so anyone who felt like it would populate the streets – and rob.

Knights very often just as much as the poorest, who might be forced to send their children away, as in the famous fairy story of ‘Hansel and Gretel’: where it seemed the parents were to blame, when in actual fact a complete lack of social security was.

Modern taxes are there to support a government and its officials in running a system of society that is – comparatively – just.
Just by protecting the weak and keeping the strong(er) ones at bay.

Streets are clean, buses take you almost anywhere, and are usually reliable and on time, trains carry goods with schedules that make planning possible.
Children from an early age are well-kept in kindergartens and preschools, to be educated well, and kept safe until their parents get off work.
Hygiene standards in public healthcare are high, as indeed they are in research and technology – which makes it possible even during a pandemic to take care that society does not sink into an abyss of poverty and despair, as it did during the plague.
Justice in law is aimed at.

No human system is perfect! Alas, the sky is blue everywhere, as someone put it. Or, even more lyrical, the sun shines for the righteous and the unrighteous, the same way.
But very often, the ‘dose makes the poison’!

And so keeping an eye on those that are weak of character, anyplace, in government, law and the community at large, is a good idea.

But: too low or NO taxes are a bad idea!