Tolerance and respect during social inflection points
Climate Emergency. Black Lives Matter. Brexit (yes, it's STILL happening!). We seem to be at a juncture of history where multiple inflection points are converging, spanning local to global issues, sometimes spreading the world like the COVID-19 pandemic societies are currently struggling with. Individuals and communities are declaring that enough is enough! on a wide range of issues. There is a sense that by pushing the right levers now, a new, more just, more equitable, more sustainable world might arise as we emerge from lock-down. Or we might miss the chance altogether.
There have been other significant moments during my life: conflict ranging from the Balkans to Rwanda to the Middle East; 9/11; economic hardship during the Global Financial Crisis; environmental disasters both natural and man-made, such as Chernobyl, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Deepwater Horizon, Fukushima. These hit hard but were generally discrete occurrences. Right now, we seem to have issue after issue, piling on top of each other, polarising us, stretching us thin until we become numb or snap.
This is why we should try harder to look for that which that unites us and not just that which divides us. The unwatered patch of common ground hiding somewhere between you and almost anyone you disagree with. Some spark of humanity where you can step back from the abyss and remember that most people are not monsters, they love their friends and family like you do even if their views sometimes seem abhorrent to those you hold dear. Tolerance and respect are virtues most of us ascribe to but they can all too easily fly out of the window in the heat of an argument. I know I find it hard to hold onto them sometimes!
Live Aid. Clap for our Carers. While you can find flaws in these collective actions, they drew on the common decency and humanity of people – we need more of that spirit and less violence polluting peaceful protests, less irresponsible media (both professional and social) feeding the flames of polarisation. Next time you find yourself being pulled into an acrimonious exchange on something that matters to you, stop for a moment (if you can). Take a breath. Try and do your part, however small, to pull down the “Berlin Walls” that increasingly divide us so we can build a better world together, with tolerance and respect.
Entry 12 of my participation in the “100 days to offload” challenge. Find out more and join in!