Think back—when’s the last time you had a different perspective than one of your friends? When’s the last time you’ve had to learn something about their culture? We’re betting it wasn’t that long ago. And that’s why, since 1996, we’ve celebrated International Day For Tolerance on November 16. It was started by the UN General Assembly, with the goal of getting educational institutions and the general public to see tolerance as a staple of society. And it came after the United Nations declared a Year for Tolerance in 1995. Although we should be tolerant every day, it’s always good to have one occasion to remind us just how important tolerance is. So put aside time to observe this November 16, even if you’re just learning more about your neighbor.
How to Observe International Day For Tolerance
1. Watch debates and discussions
There's no shortage of live debates and discussions about tolerance, and you can get a glimpse of perspectives from all over the world. You don't have to leave your home to take part in any of this either. All you need is internet and an open mind (the latter being more important by a hair).
2. Check out educational resources
If you want to consume info at your own pace, check out some of the online educational resources; you'll be able to find everything from text books to lesson materials. Also, don't forget to drop by The UN Chronicle Online Education site for detailed articles about tolerance. And if you need more information on the happenings of the day, the UN's website will have you covered.
3. Tell your own stories and listen to others
Feel empowered to share your thoughts and observations. There are a number of essays and dialogues centered on people's individual experiences, so you can join the conversation even if you're not up for a debate. There's nothing wrong with listening, either. (It might even be the most important aspect.) So take in as many stories as you can.
Why International Day For Tolerance is Important
A. It encourages us to keep an open mind
Many of us have a good of idea of what tolerance is, but explaining it can be tricky. We're not going to pretend that we have the answer, but from what we can gather, respect and appreciation are two of the most important qualities. This doesn't mean that we have to agree with each other on everything; however, if we don't recognize the value that each culture and form of expression brings to the table, it hinders our community's ability to thrive.
B. It promotes peace
Tolerance is a philosophy most of us live by. But do we actually take the time to consider if our everyday actions are tolerant or not? This day gives us a milestone to examine our actions and take a good, hard look at how tolerant we really are. Then, we learn how to change our ways.
C. It shows us that education is the key
Many of our biases are taught to us as children. But with education, we can unlearn some of our bad habits. By making the effort to learn more about those who are different from us, the unknown becomes known. So make a concerted effort to get out of your bubble this International Day For Tolerance.