War against intolerance at International Day for Tolerance
The major problem facing our world today is that of discrimination and intolerance. The tension in most parts of the world, especially America, is as a result of intolerance between the democrats and republicans. The Republicans see the democrats as too liberal, those who promote such anti-life policies as abortion, gay union, etc., while the democrats see the Republicans as too conservative, those who are building walls against migrants and against human freedom. The peak of this dichotomy is the gap between the prolife and the prochoice.
Here in Africa, especially Nigeria, members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) see their opponents, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as ‘People Deceiving People.’ To them, they are the most corrupt party in the world, whereas PDP members see APC as the most terrorising party in the world. To them, it is a party made up of ‘All Past Criminals.’ The tension between the militants, IPOB, the Sheik and other pressure groups in Nigeria is as a result of intolerance. The Federal Government is not ready to dialogue with IPOB. It has even proscribed them as terrorists, whereas IPOB members themselves are not even ready to accept Nigeria as their nation, hence, the call for secession.
At the religious level, the two major religious groups in Nigeria are not ready to tolerate each other. So many people have lost their lives due to religious clashes. Even Christians are discriminating against themselves. Some Catholics still believe that outside the Catholic Church, there is no salvation. The Anglicans see themselves as the ones who live in communion with God, and that others are not in communion with God. Members of the Chosen see themselves as the chosen ones, and that others may be rejected. Members of Deeper Life see themselves as those living the authentic life, while others are living a shallow life. Christ Embassy members see themselves as the true ambassadors of Christ, and that others are spiritual migrants. The Assemblies of God see their Church as God’s own assembly, while other churches are human assemblies.
Considering the global effect of intolerance, November 16 has been declared the International Day for Tolerance. It is a day set aside to reflect on the negative impact of intolerance on the society. It is also a day to address such existential issues as tribalism, racism, injustice, oppression, and all forms of discriminations against humanity.
Reacting to those who are building walls against their fellow human beings, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, declares, “In the social and civil context as well, I appeal not to create walls but to build bridges… To not respond to evil with evil. To defeat evil with good, the offence with forgiveness.” Wall stands for intolerance, whereas bridge is a way of encouraging tolerance and solidarity. Discrimination against migrants or any person at all is not just a crime against humanity, but also a crime against God’s command.
The book of Exodus 22:21 declares, “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” In the gospel of Luke chapter 15, our Lord Jesus Christ practically broke the wall of intolerance, barriers and discriminations. He actually ate with tax collectors and sinners.
In line with the teaching and action of Christ, St. Paul declares, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3: 28). Indeed, we are all one. As we tolerate one another, there will be peace and harmony in our world. God’s name will be glorified in Jesus name – Amen!