Tag Archives: tolerance

“We always have the choice”

Having experienced xenophobia and intolerance ourselves does not give us the right to be xenophobic and intolerant towards someone else. We need to learn from our negative experiences to create as much positivity in the world as possible.

“We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us, and make us kinder. We always have the choice. “

– Dalai Lama

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Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled“Introduction…”.

Is atheism a religion?

Sometimes in criticising that which we believe to be closed-minded, we become just as closed-minded as those we aim to criticise. For example, non-religious people can be very critical of the devoutly religious, but in their criticisms, they become just as closed-minded as the people they seek to criticise. It is important not to become closed-minded in seeking open-mindedness. In attempting to discredit something for being ignorant, intolerant and dogmatic; it is important not to become ignorant, intolerant and dogmatic ourselves.

Atheism can be just as dogmatic and impenetrable as theism. Believing that God exists or believing that God doesn’t exist can still be narrowed down to believing. Sometimes believing in something makes us so focused on our specific belief that we fail to take anything else into account, including the lack of logic in our own beliefs (I think the same can be said for knowledge). In the words of JP Sears*- “Rebel against dogmatic religious terminology by dogmatically using spiritual terminology…You don’t see that you are actually still subscribed to the exact same belief system, you’re rebelling against; because now you are expressing the same concepts just with new words.”

Theists believe in God and seek to prove that God exists, and atheists (who do not believe in God) seek to prove that God does not exists…both are trying to prove something- and this proof usually comes in the form of intolerance towards anyone who has an opposing belief. This intolerance usually manifests itself through venomous phrases such as- “Religion is the root cause of all the violence in the word” and “Genocides have been committed by atheist, like Mao, Pol-Pot and Stalin”

What makes atheism or religion either violent or peaceful are the individual people who subscribe to either atheism or religion. We cannot afford to make blanket statements like “all religious people promote violence” or “all atheists are immoral” because these stereotypes are simply not true. Both atheists and theists (hopefully) want to build a peaceful world without wars and violence, they just want to go about it in different ways- without God and with God. In putting each other down, we take steps further and further back from our goal of building a more harmonious and peaceful world.

For me personally, whether atheism is perceived as a religion or not is irrelevant. Forcing people to adhere to your ways, whether you are an atheist or a theist is wrong (For more on this point, please read my blog post titled “Do you prefer tea or coffee?” ) What matters most is finding a way for everyone to respect, appreciate, accept, understand and finally coexist with one another.

http://steve.rogueleaf.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/140308-Tit-For-Tat-Atheism-Religion.png
http://steve.rogueleaf.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/140308-Tit-For-Tat-Atheism-Religion.png

* Check out the video “How to be Ultra Spiritual (funny) with JP Sears- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kDso5ElFRg 

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Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled“Introduction…”.

Tolerance and precision of language

Google has provided us with the following definition of tolerance:

Tolerance- ‘the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behaviour that one does not necessarily agree with’.

A close friend of mine recently told me that he doesn’t like the word “tolerance”. He believes that to “tolerate” something, implies that there is something fundamentally wrong with whatever it is that we are tolerating. He told me that he would prefer for me to use words such as “understanding” and “respect” in my blog posts.

To be fair, it’s something that I have thought about but didn’t attach too much weight to…that is until I looked at Google’s example of using the word “tolerance” in a sentence- “the tolerance of corruption”. Corruption is something that is fundamentally and inherently wrong, but it is something that can be tolerated to some extent. I thought about the contexts in which I use the word “tolerate” myself. It’s not uncommon for me to say something like “I don’t like [xyz], but I can tolerate it in small doses”.

It’s kind of like when someone asks how you are and you respond with “fine” instead of “good”. The two words are basically synonymous, yet in practice their meaning can differ greatly. Perhaps “tolerance” is to “fine”, as what “acceptance, respect, and understanding “is to ”good”.

Having thought about it, I am not sure if I like the word “tolerance” either if it is being interpreted in such a way. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with interfaith, inter-race, multiculturalism, homosexuality, gender equality and whatever else I talk about in my blog posts. The themes I discuss are not something to dislike yet tolerate, but rather something to embrace, accept and celebrate.

The reason why I started this blog post in the first place was for people to concentrate on what they share in common with others, not to pick at differences. It’s not enough for people to “tolerate” one another, I want people to accept, understand, respect and celebrate one another.

❤ ❤ ❤

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Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled“Introduction…”.

Just a little reminder…

if they respect you

As hard as it may be, it is so important to practice tolerance and respect, even in the face of intolerance and disrespect.

The best way to teach and to educate is through setting an example for others to follow. If we can practice what we preach in the most difficult of circumstances, we set the best possible example for others; and we don’t fall short of our own expectations of tolerance and respect.

It is so easy to drop to the wavelength of intolerance and disrespect, but fighting fire with fire will do nothing more than spread the very fire we seek to put out. We need to remember to rise above it all, stay true to ourselves, respect others, tolerate others and treat others the way we would like to be treated, even if others won’t do the same for us.

❤ ❤ ❤

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Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled“Introduction…”.

Thoughts

As per usual I will start off with a story, which on this occasion doesn’t actually relate to tolerance, but I will do by best to weave it into the theme.

I was at the gym the other day and I had picked up what I thought to be a 10kg barbell. It felt significantly heavier than usual but I accredited that feeling to tiredness. After I completed my designated exercise, my husband pointed out to me that I had actually lifted a 20kg weight (the disks on each side weighed 5kg each but the bar itself weighed 10kg- do the math). I had attempted to lift a 20kg barbell before but couldn’t push through the pain. On this occasion I had done the same amount of sets and reps as I would have ordinarily done with a 10kg barbell, but I was in fact lifting 20kgs.

I was really impressed to find that what I had thought to be physically impossible for me to do (given my present strength, or rather a lack thereof) was actually a product of what my mind had created and believed. I had accidentally tricked my mind into believing the barbell was 10kg and my mind granted my body the ability to lift a 20kg weight. As my husband pointed out to me, for someone who has read “The Power of Now”, I shouldn’t consider this experience a revelation. To be fair, the experience didn’t reveal anything that I didn’t already know, but it reminded me of how powerful my thoughts are in affecting and shaping my physical reality.

I honestly believe that the thoughts we have about others and ourselves can play a big role in the events we encounter in our lives. As explained by the law of attraction “by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life.” (Wikipedia).

As I have noticed from my own personal experiences, annoying things are more like to happen to me (such as tripping-up over thin air, losing my keys, getting articles of clothing stuck in the door, locking myself out of the house etc.) when I am in a bad mood. Usually the reason I am in a bad mood is because I have experienced negative thoughts about myself or someone else. Hence, I have attributed the majority of the annoying occurrences in my life to my own negative thought patterns. I am well aware that this is debatable and many may disagree, but at least for me personally, the ‘truth’ or ‘proof’ of the law of attraction is irrelevant, because I am much more positive and much less clumsy as a result of believing in the theory.

Thus, if we accept the law of attraction to be true (at least for the purposes of the last paragraph of this post), we will find that if we have intolerant thoughts we are more likely to attract intolerance to ourselves. If we attract intolerance to ourselves we are more likely to become even more intolerant, thereby being stuck in a vicious cycle of intolerance. Conversely, if we have tolerant thoughts we are more likely to attract tolerance to ourselves. In order to erase intolerance in the world, we need to erase our own intolerant thoughts. In order create tolerance in the world; we need to create tolerance in our own thoughts.

What is in your thoughts?

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Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled “Introduction…”.

“But (s)/he started it…”

Image- http://icanhas.cheezburger.com/

We are all capable of spotting someone else’s intolerance, but we’re not all that quick to spot our own. It’s particularly hard to stop ourselves from being intolerant towards someone who we perceive to be intolerant towards ourselves. However, we are not five year olds and the -“ but (s)/he started it” excuse isn’t going to cut it. Even in the face of intolerance, as hard as it may be, it’s probably best not to answer with intolerance. I’ve had to learn that the hard way (See my blog post titled “Tolerance Limits”).

Being hotheaded, self-righteous, stubborn and opinionated I have a tendency to accept almost every invitation to engage in a fight comprised solely of intolerance. I need to learn to choose my battles a bit more wisely and utilize my character traits for good, not evil. Like a five year old, I use the- “but (s)/he started it” excuse…and it’s simply not good enough. Even though I may not have been the one to start it, I chose to participate in it and that is just as bad.

If some kind of intolerant bigot (for the purpose of this example lets make them Australian) tells an immigrant to row their boat back to where they came from, can the immigrant accuse the bigot of having ancestors that were convicts or perpetrators of genocide? While it’s tempting (oh so tempting), it’s probably not correct and in the long run will create more problems that what it will solve. Intolerance needs to be dealt with in the right way, not the easy way. It’s like fighting racism with reverse racism, or sexism with reverse sexism…racism is racism and sexism is sexism. Irrespective of who the perpetrator and victim are, and whether or not their roles get reversed, it’s still intolerant and wrong.

When my husband was asked if he had any jihadi friends he didn’t lose it. When he was told that terrorists are Muslims that kill people just moments after, he still managed to keep his cool (For further details, refer to my blog post titled “Do you have any Jihadi friends?”). He didn’t rip apart his interlocutor with similar intolerant comments (like I probably would have) because he didn’t feel the need to stoop down to such a primitive level. If we defend ourselves in the same manner that we are being attacked, how are we any better than our attacker? If we know better, we need to act better.

If we want to dismantle intolerance and reinforce acceptance, it’s necessary for us to adhere to our own expectations. The right way to dismantle intolerance is through education, positive reinforcement and love. Fighting fire with fire in this sense will only reinforce intolerance further rather than dismantle it. As hard as it may be, when faced with some sort of bigotry, maybe we need to follow the advice that adults give five-year olds- if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

” An eye for an eye will leave the world blind.”- Gandhi

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Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled “Introduction…”.

Tolerance limits

Image: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/hookah-smoke/

I’ve harped on about the importance of tolerance and I have also confessed that I am a hypocrite, so please enjoy another one of my potentially hypocritical posts. 🙂 As per usual, I am going to start-off with a story.

When my husband was still my boyfriend, we went out on a double date with close friends, who are a married couple. We went to some sort of a Middle-Eastern Shi-Sha* establishment. It was a Turkish, Lebanese or an Afghani cafe…I cannot for the life of me remember.

Everything was going swimmingly. We took our seats, we were given menus, the time came to make our order… and that’s when things got interesting. The male waiter only asked for the orders of the males present at the table. When I said “I’d like a soy latte, please” – the waiter didn’t look at me, or take down my order. I was beside myself. My then-boyfriend had to order a coffee on my behalf and the husband of the couple we were with also had to make an order for his wife.

This was a first for me. I had never experienced anything like it before. Baffled, I was completely lost for words. I asked the present company what in the world had just happened. The couple we were with (who are of Middle-Eastern background) put forward to me that perhaps the waiter was just trying to be respectful. Oh I’m sorry; on what planet is it respectful to purposefully ignore someone’s existence?

The couple tried to explain to me that because I was with a man, the waiter was being respectful towards said man by not looking at me and pretending that I didn’t exist, which was also in turn being respectful towards me. Apparently, it was a cultural thing. I would like to say that I am not xenophobic, but this definitely hit my tolerance limit. In my mind, here I was sitting in a café in Australia experiencing some sort of blatant sexism that was being masqueraded as a “respect” and “culture” thing.

I’m not going to lie. The- “go back to whichever country you came from, waiter” thought entered my mind.  This wasn’t because I was being intolerant towards him or his culture, it’s because I believe he was being intolerant to me, and my culture and ignorant towards his surroundings.It was intolerant, it was wrong and I am sorry. As pointed out in the comment below, I can’t preach about the importance of tolerance if I myself don’t adhere to the standards that I am trying to set. In the words of Einstein, “No problem can be solved with the same level of consciousness that created it”, so it is futile to fight bigotry with bigotry.

Different societies have different standards and norms. While holding onto your own culture is important, it cannot come at the expense and degradation of the standards and norms of the society in which you reside. As far as I am concerned, if you work in hospitality as as a waiter/waitress in Australia, you are supposed to take orders from patrons of the establishment you work for, irrespective of what gender, nationality, culture etc. those patrons may be. It’s called customer-service…it’s not rocket science. Tolerance needs to work both ways…but it doesn’t mean that if it only works one way it shouldn’t work at all.

The limit to my tolerance is when I feel that it is one-sided. I do my best not to project my culture/(s) and religion/(s) onto others, is it too much for me to expect that others will do the same? In a perfect world, tolerance should know no limits. We all have work to do with regards to tolerance and acceptance. I will continue working on myself and do my best to accept and tolerate others, even if they do not (or do not know how to) accept and tolerate me…and I do expect others to work on themselves accordingly.

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*Shisha smoking – also called hookah, narghile, waterpipe, or hubble bubble smoking – is a way of smoking tobacco, sometimes mixed with fruit or molasses sugar, through a bowl and hose or tube. (as defined by: https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/risk-factors/smoking/shisha)

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Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled “Introduction…”.

The question of conversion

While I made it apparent to my now-husband on our very first date that I had no intention of converting, it would be a lie to say that it never came up as an issue later on in our relationship.

To be fair, it wasn’t much of an issue at all. My husband’s Mum simply told my husband that Islam is a beautiful religion and that I should consider converting. She then went on to elaborate that it might be easier for the both of us later on in life we both have the same religion and raise our children with one religion rather than three. I asked my husband to tell him Mum that my parents are of different religions and neither one of them converted and that I grew up with two religions and didn’t find it particularly difficult. Unintentionally, my mother-in-law to be had hurt my feelings. As soon as she understood she had caused me pain, she apologized profusely and explained that she only wants what is best for me and never intended to hurt me. She never mentioned the subject again.

Conversion is not at all important to me, because actions speak louder than words, including the written words on a formal document. As I have previously mentioned, my husband and I intend on raising our children with three cultures (being Australian, Russian and Iranian), three languages (English, Farsi and Russian) and three religions (being Russian-Orthodox, Islam and Judaism). To me, this kind of exposure and upbringing is worth so much more than having a piece of paper that validates my child belonging to a particular religion.

My in-laws are very open-minded and progressive people. This is particularly significant because they live in a country whose government is doing its best to keep its people conservative and closed-minded. The majority of the questions my in-laws asked my husband and I were not due to intolerance, but due to genuine inquisitiveness and concern about our future. When you live in a theocratic country, it’s hard to envisage how a secular state runs. These are the two main questions my in-laws asked my husband and I:

  1. Will both of your religions be displayed on your Australian Marriage Certificate?
  2. Do you have to state the religion of your children on their Birth Certificate?

These are both legitimate questions from people who don’t know how things roll in Australia. The answer to both of these questions is a “no”, and that’s commonsensical to me because I live in a secular state. It wasn’t self-explanatory to my in-laws, however because in their country, any Government-related document is inherently connected to Islam including marriage and birth certificates. As soon as my husband and I explained the secular nature of these documents, my in-laws’ concerns were put to rest.

As one of my cousins pointed out to me, on the whole, my husband’s family has been more tolerant towards me than my family has been towards my husband. This is particularly interesting, given that popular belief regards Islam as a very strict religion and the prerequisite of marrying into Islam is an obligatory conversion. So there’s another myth busted I guess.

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Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled “Introduction…”.

Having faith in interfaith

Image: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/change/faith/

Although my husband and I have different backgrounds in religion, culture, language and nationality, none of our arguments have ever related to any of those differences. That’s not to say we never fight – because we do, our fights just don’t ever get political.

We are one of very few couples who not only get along with but also adore each other’s parents. My husband’s parents are crazy about me and I’m fairly sure my parents love my husband more than they love me. Furthermore our respective sets of parents share a love for each other. The fact that they live in different countries doesn’t stop them from contacting each other on a regular basis. Additionally, my Mum calls my husband’s brother and sister her son and daughter (respectively), and they in turn call my Mum their Mum too. The sort of relations my husband’s family has with my family can only be seen in fairytales, and even then our ‘Happily every after’ is better than that of any fairytale.

I have several friends and acquaintances that share the same nationality and religion as their partner, but their families can’t seem to get along. That puts a great strain on the functioning of their relationship and prospective future of their partnership. My husband and I are truly blessed, that despite all our differences our families get along and they get along well.

I can’t imagine the difficulty of an interfaith marriage of which one or both sets of parents disapprove. Thus, the small hardships that my husband and I have faced (and are likely yet to face) from the outside world, cannot in any way be compared to the sorts of hardships other interfaith couples experience whose parents disapprove of their union. I can’t really comment on those hardships because, luckily, I myself have not had to endure them. What I can say, however, is that my husband’s family and my family have set a pretty damn good example of how things should be with regards to interfaith marriage and marriage in general. Other interfaith couples’ families should seriously take note and follow suit.

Parents want what is best for their children, but sometimes what parents think is best for their children, isn’t want the children think is best for themselves. Furthermore, parents who are scared about their child marrying into a different culture or religion because they might lose the culture and religion they were born into, have unfounded fears. You don’t lose your identity to your partner when you marry them, so why would you lose your culture and religion? Anything is possible; it’s simply a matter of choice. If the families of a couple comprising of one Russian-Orthodox Jew and one Iranian Muslim could unite despite their differences and figure it out, I’m sure other families can figure it out too.

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Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled “Introduction…”.

Warm Fuzzies

In no particular order, I’d like to share a few memories that make me really happy and hopefully in some way relate to multiculturalism:

1. The time my Iranian-Muslim in-laws danced a Hora (a traditional Jewish ring dance, to the music of Hava Nagila) at the wedding of my husband and I. It was awesome. It was such a natural and beautiful unification of two seemingly opposing cultures- not exactly something you see everyday.

2. The time my Muslim mother-in-law prepared a meal that was Kosher for my Israeli best friend. This was definitely a sight to see. My Israeli Bestie and I were explaining to my Muslim mother-in-law why Jews separate dairy products from meat products, the concept of  ‘not cooking a kid in its mother’s milk’. Having understood my Bestie’s dietary requirement, my mother-in-law used Halal-certified meat (Muslim dietary requirement) to whip up a traditional Iranian dish that adhered to Kosher requirements.

3. The time my Iranian husband became an integral member of the family amongst Israelis.

4. The time my Russian Orthodox Mum and my Muslim Mother-in-law discovered that they pray for the same things but with different formalities attached. Both first pray for world peace before praying for their own individual needs. Both acknowledge that as long as there is one unhappy person in the world, no one can truly be happy.

5.  The time my sister-in-law bought duty-free bottles of Vodka in Dubai for the wedding of my husband and I, whilst wearing a headscarf. This is gold… Wearing a headscarf my sister-in-law causally asked the duty free sales assistant for two 1.5 litre bottles of Grey Goose Vodka (3 litres of alcohol was the purchasing allowance per person). Given that it is against Islam to consume alcohol and my Sister-in-law’s headscarf gave away her Muslim faith,  I can only imagine the bedazzled look on the shop assistant’s face. “Are you sure?”- the confused shop assistant asked. “Yes, I am sure. Don’t worry it’s not for me, it’s for a wedding with Russians” – she replied. I wish I could have been there to film it.

6. The time I told my Russian-Orthodox Mum that I want to embrace more of my Jewish identity, so she bought be a Star of David pendant. It’s not uncommon for me to wear the Star of David pendant and a Cross on the same necklace. It gets more interesting when I go to Iran and wear all of the above plus a compulsory headscarf.

7. The time my Mother-in-law ran outside without her headscarf (in Australia), thinking that something bad had happened to my husband and I.  Our safety was more important to her than a religious requirement.

8. The time an unlikely company comprising of one Russian, one Iranian, one Israeli and two Lebanese, got together to play Monopoly one New Years Eve. The political incorrectness ran rampant. My favourite quote of the night had to be- “Of course the poor, pregnant Arab is the outcast of the society- left basically broke waiting to pass through Go to collect $200.00, while the wealthy Jew is building hotels on Kings Avenue”… In case you didn’t get it- we were trying to be funny, not intolerant. All 5 of us have experienced intolerance one way or another, so what better way to surpass it than by poking fun at the associated stereotypes of our nationalities and religions in the company of good friends.

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These individual memories bring a smile to my face and warm fuzzies to my Heart Chakra. To me, they playfully symbolise peace love and harmony. Hopefully we can have more moments like these in the world and in our lives. ❤

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Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled “Introduction…”.