In pondering the practice of tolerance, and researching how art and poetry has reflected that essential message, I came across a number of quotes .
But first, let me include the definition of Tolerance in the context of this blog episode.
The ability or willingness to tolerate something; in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.
A fair and permissive attitude toward those whose race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own.
Freedom from bigotry.
Since the birth of Isis and it’s terroristic acts of violence, there has been a surge in hate crimes, and public expression of intolerance towards Muslims in general.
Hatred and intolerance of certain religious beliefs and cultural practices has been part of human history since the beginning of time.
Yet we seem to be, en masse, no further evolved to accept and embrace cultural differences than we were back in medieval times, when people were burned and beheaded because they did not conform to the status quo.
The Dalai Lama says,
In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher.
We are quick to say that “we would not do such a thing”, or that “we do not condone” a certain practice, yet it is THAT THING that teaches us how we should behave.
Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.
John F. Kennedy
It is also SO important to open ourselves to the true teaching of a religion, not just tar every member of a particular religion with the same brush.
According to Pervez Musharraf, Islam teaches tolerance, not hatred; universal brotherhood, not enmity; peace, and not violence.
But this is not just about religion. In America, it seems to me that there are very few people who can discuss differing politics, without resorting to insults or intolerance of opinion.
Race is another Medusa.
As I was listening to NPR yesterday, there was an interview with an American Rapper from Queens, called Heems,
( Himanshu Kumar Suri,) best known for being part of the alternative hip hop group Das Racist.
Heems is celebrating his first solo album since his rap group Das Racist disbanded in 2012. He currently has an exhibit at New York’s Aicon Gallery titled “Eat Pray Thug” after his new album of the same name. The show, and his new album deals with race, identity, and culture with a South Asian perspective. He explores racist comments and attitudes, he condemns racial profiling, and he pokes fun at issues that are uncomfortable, like police Violence.
I do not particularly like rap, as my own exposure to it has been while sitting at traffic lights with the guy next to me blaring exceptionally loud ranting with heavy base, shouting angry MF words and other abusive rhythmic hammering. But apparently, I am being intolerant, because I have since discovered a world of very intelligent and intellectual word mongering, (which I still prefer to read to myself, rather than have my ear drums blasted :)
Another poet that I have discovered is someone who calls himself Mucro Pondera Divinus, ( I found him at http://hellopoetry.com )
He sounds rather jaded about tolerance in his poem of the same name,
"To tolerate is to glorify one's limits.
Feigning acceptance of the beyond,
true character remains just out of reach.
Better to hate openly and honestly
than veil it in the robes of community;
...better yet, see tolerance for what it isn't."
Yet in a softer poem called Kafir, he seems to contradict himself, and we see him for his true nature..
Kafir by Mucro Pondera Divinus
To believe in the god of another,
one must first deny that God
is the fount of Self,
and mistake belief for faith.
Having discovered God
in me, as me - as in all others -
I have learned to love God
by loving others as myself.
My heresy is against gods
of hatred disguised as love,
against men of blind faith
and divisive words.
Against warring cultures
and exclusivist belief,
against prostituting religion
for political ends.
God is no infidel;
I am but one expression
(hardly unique at all)
Kafir (ÙƒØ§ÙØ±) is an Arabic term meaning "unbeliever" or "infidel".
So for my own part, I would like to quote myself, from the poem, Time is near.
I warn that Tolerance needs to become a survival mechanism.
"Tolerance , the new survival,
Respect and grace towards your rival. "
In my work as a nurse I have to respect cultural diversity, and practices. It is not always easy. But I learn something every day. I learn that when I accept someone and see through the preconceived ideas that I may have had, then I understand myself and life, just a little more.
Here are a few well known songs which include lyrics with a message of tolerance and peaceful social change.
· “Ebony and Ivory” by Paul McCartney
· “Imagine” by John Lennon
· “Where is the Love?” by The Black Eyed Peas
· “Black or White” by Michael Jackson
· “Wake Up America” by Miley Cyrus
· “Peace, Love, and Understanding” by Elvis Costello
· Song Analysis Handout (for Grades 6-12)
· “We Shall Overcome” by Joan Baez
· “The Times They Are a-Changin’” by Bob Dylan
· “The Rising” by Bruce Springsteen
· “Where is the Love?” by The Black Eyed Peas
Music can create powerful connections between people, help us learn about different cultures, shatter stereotypes, question social injustices and inspire us to create an ideal world. Beyond entertainment, music and lyrics can educate, inspire, influence and change society, and provide social commentary.
I am constantly looking for new influences in the world of Art to promote the message of peaceful acceptance and change .
Please feel free to comment or add to my list of Lyrics or poems , which are limited only by the length and depth of this blog, and the limits of my own experience.
Have a great and tolerant weekend.