“Learning the Lesson of Tolerance”
AS WE approach the end of the 20th century, has mankind in general learned any lessons from its violent history since 1914? Federico Mayor, director general of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), was not too optimistic in an article he wrote for The Unesco Courier. “The world whose emergence can be discerned . . . does not inspire whole-hearted enthusiasm. Religious fundamentalism, nationalism, racial and ethnic prejudice, anti-semitism: the winds of freedom have rekindled the embers of hatred. . . . The collapse of the old order has left the field open for all kinds of new initiatives, some of them extremely chaotic—and violence thrives in a vacuum.”
Why does violence thrive? Why do people hate and kill others just because of differences in religion or ethnic background? Whether in former Yugoslavia, in India, in Northern Ireland, in the United States, or anywhere else in the world, one of the root causes seems to lie in misguided education. Instead of learning mutual tolerance and respect, people have learned distrust and hatred from their parents, from their schools, and from society at large.
Federico Mayor continued: “Let us abandon that dubious tolerance which allows us to tolerate the intolerable—the poverty, hunger and suffering of millions of human beings. If we do, we shall encounter the warmth of the sunshine of compassion and fraternity.” These are noble sentiments. But what practical means exist that can change the bedarkened spirit underlying our so-called enlightened world?
Over 2,500 years ago, Isaiah recorded these words of Jehovah: “All your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant.” (Isaiah 54:13) Since “God is love,” it follows that those who truly live by his principles will learn peace, not war; love, not hatred; tolerance, not intolerance.—1 John 4:8.
Who are promoting this teaching that leads people to peace and love and tolerance? Who are the ones who live in unity regardless of their national origin? Who have received a Bible education that has changed their whole outlook from one of hatred to one of love? We recommend that you examine the teachings and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses to discover why they truly have a worldwide unity.—John 13:34, 35; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.