From the religious realm to political or societal, whether a man is ready to respect the other for what he actually is or would he simply be ready to only tolerate his existence because at a given point of time one feels restrained to physically assault or eliminate the other? The preferences we might have on the above mentioned choices will decide the future of the world as we know it.
So, if a Spanish aristocracy had given a time of four months for Jews to either convert or die later on the consequence of non-compliance, the peace and safety that was guaranteed to Jews during those four months, was it because of tolerance or because of a sense of Mutual Respect? The regular Christian who until then had a legal right to murder a Jew at his will would have to tolerate his existence for the said period? Is it not?
Mere tolerance is not a human virtue but it is a quality of an animal. For Eg: – In the movie “Jungle Book” Sher Khan – The Tiger which has neither respect for a man’s (Mowgli’s) life nor it wants him to survive and is waiting for an opportune moment to put Mowgli to his teeth. That being the intention of Sher Khan, when the “Water Truce” was in effect, the tiger tolerated Mowgli’s presence/existence or simply did not kill him though Mowgli was there at the arm’s length of Sher Khan.
After butchering more than a billion people for two thousand years the religious figure heads of middle east’s belief systems have come up with this concept of tolerance. Though the very idea is hypocritical, if such a stand would have been taken before Columbus has set out for a voyage to Americas, lives of 100,000,000 native Americans could have been spared.
The attitudes of Middle east’s belief systems shall be ascertained by the actions of its believers and based on what kind of treatment is prescribed in their books for people who belong to other traditions or simply religions.
The history is replete with events of dastardly intolerant actions towards the others which are supported by doctrinal and scriptural sanctions of middle east religions. It is indeed tempting to immediately compare their residual intolerance and contrast them with the positions of eastern traditions, but we should not fall in to that trap. Because, on this question they (Mid-East belief systems) are not qualified to be compared with Eastern traditions.
For a book that literally tells its followers to smite the fingers and necks of non-believers, it cannot be compared with neither the eastern belief systems nor its philosophies. The mere fact that for centuries after centuries men on horse backs with murderous weapons were sent to kill and maim innocent men, women and children simply because they were not believers, is a proof enough.
With such a past, it is not surprising to see that the modern-day liberals of these belief systems trumpeting the concept of tolerance as a great discovery this world has ever known or seen. For there are more superior ideas like “Mutual Respect” which are inherent to Eastern Traditions. Eastern philosophies don’t preach the dichotomy of Believers versus Non-believers.
I have first read about this interesting topic of Mutual respect versus tolerance in Rajiv Malhotra’s book “Being Different” in the chapter “The Audacity of Difference “and I insist that everyone should read it to understand the greater problems that we are facing today. What are those greater problems? They are Irony and Hypocrisy on the part of the people who prescribe it as some kind of a solution to eradicate the violence and terrorism which draws its inspiration from Mid-east belief systems.
Mere tolerance doesn’t guarantee mutual respect, but spares the other just for the heck of it. The first question to be asked to the mantle holders of ME belief systems is whether we can get a team to re-read your books and put certain teachings/phrases to modern-day scrutiny and if they fail the test then it should be allowed for re-interpretation and then if it is found out that it does inspire religious violence towards others then it should be agreed that the teaching of those phrases or dogmas should be barred in the religious schools if not an outright re-interpretation. Is that possible? I am sure it is not.
More to follow on this tolerance versus mutual respect…….