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The International Day of Tolerance

Tolerance is the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs and opinions of others. This includes living side by side in peace and harmony regardless to whether you believe in another person's race, religion, or cultural heritage.

In 1995, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated a specific day to be set aside each year to increase public understanding of the deep rooted dynamics of intolerance and to promote worldwide protection of basic human rights. 

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed November 16th as the annual International Day of Tolerance beginning in 1996.

The purpose was to bring awareness to the dangers that are inherent with intolerance and to encourage governments to participate in the advancement of tolerance and cooperation among all peoples, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or cultural backgrounds.

Governments were, and still are, encouraged to help create worldwide understanding through leadership, education, freedom, and seeking progress in all aspects of human dignity.

There has to be a concerted effort on the parts of those who are the Heads of States and the governments they represent to seek solutions to any acts of intolerance within their borders.

To celebrate International Day of Tolerance, try out some of these recommendations from the United Nations!

  1. Explore the diversity of your community – Is there a cultural festival happening this week in your hometown?  Can you attend a different religious service or share a meal with a neighbor that comes from a different background?  Take today to explore the richness of diversity at home!
  2. Investigate human rights – How knowledgeable are you in the field of human rights?  Do some research online or check out this introduction to learn more about the fundamental freedoms all humans should be able to practice.
  3. Tell us how you practice tolerance – Browse through your favorite books, newspapers, or television shows to see what messages are being portrayed.  What are your own assumptions about tolerance and diversity?
  4. Reject violence – What would a conflict-free world be like?  Do you think it’s possible for mankind to avoid violence?  How can you be a part of this mission?
  5. Recognize all forms of tolerance – Take today to be extra observant of tolerance and conflict in all its forms.  Do you notice it at a sports event or in your place of worship?  Do you read about it in the newspaper?  Do you discuss current events with your friends or family? Spark discussion!

"Tolerance is the foundation for mutual respect among people and communities, and is vital for building a single global society around shared values.  It is a virtue and a quality, but above all, tolerance is an act – the act of reaching out to others and seeing differences not as barriers, but as invitations for dialogue and understanding. Our practice of tolerance must mean more than peaceful coexistence, crucial as that is.  It must be an active understanding fostered through dialogue and positive engagement with others."
~Ban Ki-moon~

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