Friday, 13 August 2010

Is tolerance allowing everything without restrain?

I have the right to criticize and protest.  A post by my friend Zulma, and some discussions in the previous days with other friends inspire me to write this.

Apparently, in this day and age, to express a critique to a system is being intolerant.  Apparently traditions are more important than protect another life form from torture, Apparently cultural relativism is more important than human rights. Apparently people don’t have the right to criticize and protest.  Apparently tolerance means everything is valid,  Why is that?

As an immigrant, the only way I have to express my discontent about the policies of the government and/or society of the country I live is expressing that in the form of critiques and protests, since I don’t have the legal right to vote.  But, does that mean that I don’t have any right whatsoever to express my opinion and disagreement to certain political and social issues?  I think not, since I work here, pay all my taxes here, contribute to the economy of the country, and even more, I will protest and disagree wherever in the world human rights are attacked, even if that country is thousands of kilometres away.

Also as an immigrant, people in my home country want to deny me the right to protest and criticize the problems back home.  “You decided to leave, what do you care if you’re so far away, you just want to criticize us because you’re ashamed of your roots” and similar things have being said to me. Sorry, but what happens in my country still hurts me, and I have my family and friends living there, and also being far away allow me to see some vices of the society that are not so clear to the insider. 

Someone said to me once that people have their chance to express their voice on the elections and that they should stop complaining after a government is formed, and that public protests are only a way to impose the point of view of a minority.  Well, I disagree with that, the rights of the minorities, the human rights campaigns, the anti-war campaigns; are necessary beyond the elections.  The majority is not always right, actually the minorities are the ones that make the social changes and have shaped the history of this planet, are the ones that have fought bravely and fiercely against the establishment.   Yes, sometimes the results have not being the best, but then when the claims are hand to hand with the universal human rights, then is when the positive transformative force of the minorities have created a better world.

 The majority opinion can be  (and should be) ignored when this opinion goes against the fundamental human rights.  History has shown that the majorities can abuse and be responsible of big injustices and crimes, slavery, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, etc .  When they are not controlled, they first attack the minorities, then they target the ones inside the majority that have an independent and critique voice, and finally against anyone who wants to move away from the norm.  Yes, being normal can be dangerous.

And then we have this new tendency, under the post-modern point of view of “everything is valid and everything is relative” there are people who want to put cultural relativism above human rights.  And don’t get me wrong, yes cultural characteristics, history and social habits are needed to understand why a society behaves the way it does, and most of the time needed before making a judgement against a country or society.

However, there are certain principles that are meant to be valid to human integrity, regardless of our social, cultural, economic or any other background, they won the name of universal human rights, because they are supposed to be applicable to any human being, anywhere.

So, if people say that Indians are savages because they eat with their hands, or that Muslim women are backwards because they cover their head; yes, I will say that a understanding of their culture is necessary, and that we have to try not to judge under our western world glasses.   However when women are clitoris-mutilated, gay people sentenced to dead or prison just because of their sexual orientation, women are stoning to death for adultery,  when immigrants are persecuted and hunted to death, when gay and bisexuals are denied rights in the name of religion, and many other, since sadly the list is very long, then I will not be silent, and I will not make excuses for that atrocities in the name of cultural relativism, and I think that none of us should tolerate that behaviour, nor as individuals, not as countries.

So, when does being tolerant became, do as you wish with no restrain whatsoever? And do you agree with that?    I certainly don’t.


ZAS said...

La tolerancia, entendida como el "todo vale" "nada se condena", es una excusa muy bonita para no comprometerse.

Y al igual que tú, pienso que opinar, expresar, disentir, discutir... son derechos a los que no debemos renunciar, sin importar a cuántos kilómetros estemos de lo que nos importa.

Anonymous said...

Tolerance often becomes a way for us to find permission for our own destructive behavior. The thinking goes that if I let you do what you want, you should let me do what I want regardless of how that affects other people. "Judgmental" becomes the other buzz word. It's wrong and irresponsible.

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