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#tolerancemeans internal change

Patrícia Tiago, Undergraduate, NOVA School of Law

November 28, 2023

"We cannot solve problems with the kind of thinking we employed when we came up with them" is a quote from Albert Einstein, known for his knowledge, and it seemed a good source to start my consideration of the topic of tolerance and dialogue.

Patrícia Tiago, Undergraduate, NOVA School of Law

Tolerance and dialogue are undoubtedly two interdependent concepts. Dialogue without tolerance becomes an argument that bears no fruit, just as much as tolerance without dialogue becomes a precious quality without being at the service of the community, which also bears no fruit.

From this perspective, "Tolerance means Dialogue" reflects the importance of the relationship between the two. Although I agree with this perspective, it does not reflect the reality we live in today.

Taking Albert Einstein's quote again, I believe the attempt to solve this problem can be changed. This is because those who try to create initiatives that promote tolerance are tolerant people who do so intending to bring intolerant people to their senses. This leads me to make a practical reasoning that if we want to try to reason with people who devalue human rights, and discriminate against minorities, among other actions, we should not try to promote a solution based on our point of view, but on the point of view of those same people.

The best way to counter populist speeches, a lack of knowledge, or even an unwillingness to embrace differences from the standards that are considered acceptable, is to understand the root of these beliefs. In other words, thinking differently from the way that created the problem.

Why do people find it difficult to accept someone different from themselves? If we imagine asking intolerant people this question, I believe their justification would be rooted in cultural beliefs, political reasons, or even a lack of knowledge.

Guiding this reflection towards the creation of bridges that minimize the division between people, I believe that we will mark the difference in future generations by learning from the mistakes of the past. We cannot erase the History of the world, but we must use it to improve it.

We must stop speaking in complicated words and speak in the language of the people. Demonstrate the need to recognize and accept the existence of difference and pluralism which enriches our lives and not the other way around.

I believe that education, from school to college, on topics that can give rise to intolerance; the promotion of a safe space in the workplace for anyone to express themselves; and the role of the media and social networks in relativizing "difference" are all very effective strategies when used in the right way and with the right purpose.

To finish, it is my true conviction that profound change comes first through personal reflection, which becomes personal change in the simple actions of everyday life, and only then through our witness, since tolerance is not a requirement concerning the other, but an internal discipline.


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