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Kamala Sarup: A Dialogue about Tolerance and Peace

A Dialogue about Tolerance and Peace


The 16th of November is International Tolerance Day
Kamala Sarup

People and tolerance are social creatures though and naturally gather together to pursue common interests. When the people and the land converge in the harmony of peace and tolerance, often remarkable things can occur.

Nepal is a place where like-minded people of goodwill can gather together for peace, as recent musical events have shown, to solve or at least conceptualize the solution to great problems facing the world today as well as Nepal's own difficulties.

Peace and tolerance, of course, means different things to different people, and this can sometimes lead to confusion and obscure the true path to achieving real peace and tolerance. A noble and tireless seeker of peace, Daisaku Ikeda, once put it thusly:

"A great revolution in just one single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a society and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of humankind."

Does this mean we all don revolutionary garb, take to the hills and engage in armed struggle? Certainly not. It is failed.

We live in the real world with jobs, family, responsibilities and the normal day-to-day problems to solve. In this world, politics and the various political processes are how humans interact and organize to solve conflict resolutions. The Buddha's words are indeed wise and an inspiration for human kind. There is much to be said for love, tolerance and understanding leading to new vistas.

We all now live in "interesting times". Some things it seems to marked by exceptional single mindedness, super specialization and a great abundance of information. We can see on such news outlets the clashes between cultures and civilizations as well as what would term more subtle epochal changes. Most, if not all, of these seem to be present in the conflict which has marred the serenity of Nepal for the last nine years or so.

Yes, it is true, the people in various areas of the world who have worked to alleviate peoples' suffering seem to be imbued with a special glow as if their work had ennobled them in some manner.

"The peace activists I have been fortunate enough to interact with remind me quite a bit of the courage and bravery I have seen in people of Latin descent, particularly Mexican descent, and the serenity and wisdom of the people I saw in Japan and in Nepal. Mostly in seeing the results of such conflicts during subsequent periods of economic reconstruction. I did see firsthand a little of such conflicts when I visited Burma, or Myanmar, as it is known by some". An old American journalist Mr. Scrabe said recently.

Deeply held beliefs, such as religious convictions, can often arouse fierce passions in people. The intense sectarian violence in Northern Ireland or Sri Lanka are recent examples of this phenomenon.

On the one hand, UN offer assistance, inspiration and hope for many, yet they are marred by scandals and incompetence at many levels. They are very human in this regard. The overall work and effort of such people as Kofi Annan, who appears to have inspired a generation of African leaders. The tragic situation which occurred in Rwanda demonstrates the need for such organizations. Yet in Orange County, California there is a remarkable man, Reverend Rick Warren, and Saddleback Church, which he and his wife founded, who recently went to Rwanda and according to news reports has done a lot of very good work there.

Perhaps what needs to be developed is a combination organization which has the capacity to defend itself while fulfilling its role as a peace facilitator with tolerance. Even though the UN Peacekeeping forces are currently being criticized for the misbehavior of some troops, one way would be to slightly restructure their force composition and mission to do exactly what we propose.

The world and its various institutions, such as governments and militarise, have been around for a very long time. History appears to move in cycles of sorts. Human beings either learn from history, or they will tend to repeat the mistakes of the past. We must be an optimist in this regard, and we must high hopes for the future as long as there are people who are working for peace, tolerance and prosperity around the globe and including in Nepal.

*************

Kamala Sarup is an editor of peacejournalism.com


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