Not too long ago the UAE announced the formation of the Ministry of Tolerance and a Ministry of Happiness. I remember some of the jeers from news organizations around the world, some calling it no more than a mere attempt to keep the UAE in the “limelight” of the news. In the wake of yet another attack of violence in the news based on racism and bigotry, it appears that the UAE is yet again right on its course to lead with its “out of the box” strategies to create a better world, FOR EVERYONE. It’s visionary, it’s altruistic and it’s a necessity. If we just look at the civil wars and unrest, the singular acts of violence throughout the world, you can drill it down to one basic fact: the lack of tolerance and respect that we have for others who do not fit in our personal version of the world.
Tolerance is not something that you teach overnight, but it can be learned. It must be taught as a core value in our schools and communities, in our workplaces and in our laws and government. And it must be unacceptable in our societies to lack tolerance. The UAE is attempting to go where no man or government has gone before; to set up a framework for its people and anyone within its borders not only to behave with tolerance and respect towards one another but to embody it, embrace it, establish it as a right of the society, and spread it to the world. It is a war on the intolerance which has become the culture of today and root of causing death, genocide, violence, religious persecution and racial and ethnic violence.
Building a people of tolerance starts with getting to know one another, learning about the culture, customs and values of the people around you, and finding a common ground. We are not talking here about assimilation, a “melting pot” or the so called failed version of multiculturalism in Europe. Yes, the UAE will rebrand tolerance, educate and reeducate about the values that are intrinsic to its people, to Muslims all around the globe because these values are universal and the epitome of tolerance. Merriam-Webster defines tolerance as: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own or the act of allowing something. “If we are to have peace on earth….our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; it means developing a world perspective.”Martin Luther King
Its starts with us, and it ends with us. The world together can defeat intolerance.