The human family is very diverse, with many different beliefs and cultures and ways of life. Many conflicts in our world are caused when people are intolerant of the ways that others see the world. Learning tolerance is an important cornerstone to creating a better world.
What is tolerance? UNESCO's Declaration of Principles on Tolerance defines tolerance as "respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. It is fostered by knowledge, openness, communication, and freedom of thought, conscience and belief. Tolerance is harmony in difference."
Intolerance is often caused by ignorance and fear. When we don't know about other cultures, religions or nations we sometimes fear them. Education is the most important way to promote tolerance. Teaching people what our shared rights and freedoms are is the first step in tolerance education. Learning about other cultures is also important to help us see the similarities between all cultures, and to respect and celebrate our differences.
Building tolerance and trust in diverse communities takes time and commitment. Tolerance Day is an opportunity to see what progress has been made throughout the year, and rededicate our commitment to promoting tolerance, respect, cooperation and dialogue between different cultures in our communities and between nations.
Taking the Tolerance Pledge, found at Tolerance.org, is a way that each of us can help to make every day Tolerance Day. "I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identity or other characteristics are different from my own."