Category Archives: tolerance


 Written for the Nation Jeans
We don’t live alone. We live with millions of other people and we share one world with them. Sadly it’s becoming more and more difficult to live with others, and so, the walls are built higher, and the conversations are cut short. However, what makes us distance our selves from fellow man?
No one is a carbon copy of another. There may be similarities, especially in the way we think. However, there will always be disagreements between people. This is mostly due to the various beliefs that coexist in this world. We could have religious or ethnic differences. But we could also disagree on the arts, on science and even history. If you take a math sum, there could only be one solution. However, there are many ways to get to that solution, and there could be disagreements regarding the method. One could say their method is the best, while another will scoff at that method.
While this could lead to a feeling of uneasiness between two people, it can expand to the communities they belong to. When this happens, what was once a battle between two people, becomes a war between two communities. Then the finger-pointing and name-calling begins and before you know it, you are forced to take a side. Entire nations have gone to war against each other due to a lack of one single thing. A thing that could have stopped all conflicts even before they started. This thing is what all religions preach, what all men and women should have. It is tolerance.
To tolerate isn’t to accept or agree with. We can agree with people, we can accept their beliefs. Yet, sometimes we just can’t. And it is better to be honest than be a blind-believer. An atheist cannot agree to the existence of a god, and he can’t accept god’s words. However, he can tolerate theist beliefs. Through tolerance we avoid conflicts and wars. We are able to coexist with people who have different beliefs.
Sadly, we are so used to taking an eye for and eye. All we want is to be proven right. We don’t want to accept that we are wrong or that there are beliefs different from our own. And so we forget tolerance and what we are taught from our very early days.
However, why is tolerance important? Why do we need to be tolerant?
Since we share a world with many others, we need to respect them. And when we respect a person, we respect their beliefs and opinions. With respect comes tolerance, because when we respect beliefs we don’t challenge them and we don’t pounce at people. Thus we need to be tolerant and respectful if we want to live in peace. Look at the world, there are wars going on everywhere. Some are wars for land. However, most are due to a lack of tolerance. Thus if we want to share this world and not kill each other, we need to be tolerant.

Tolerance also says a lot about our own beliefs. Do you believe in a doctrine that doesn’t promote tolerance, or worse, discourages tolerance? If so, you need to rethink your beliefs. This is not a ‘me, myself and I’ world. We need to give room for all beliefs, and thoughts. We can’t mock people just because they believe in something we don’t. And we definitely shouldn’t fight against each other because of disagreements or conflicts.
Non-vegetarians shouldn’t ridicule vegetarians. However, vegetarians too should be tolerant of meat-eaters. There are vegetarians and vegans who don’t allow people to eat meat when near them. However, they need to accept that their beliefs about food are not shared by everyone. And like a non-vegetarian respects a vegetarians eating habits, they too must respect a non-vegetarian’s food preferences.
Go back to that question on what makes us distance ourselves from fellow man. The answer is simple; it is the lack of tolerance that is abundant in today’s world.


Burqa: Should it be banned?

A woman’s beauty is believed to be in her face. As this is the first part of the body seen, it is considered to be what creates desire in a man. This is why women of the Muslim faith are asked and depending on their beliefs, forced to wear a burqa. A very basic description of this would be an enveloping outer garment that covers a woman from head to toe. This is both to leave a woman’s beauty to the imagination and also for the Namus or honor of Muslims.

The world was thrown into turmoil though, when a few years back, the French attempted to prohibit it by ‘The Bill to forbid concealing one’s face in public.’ This gave an opening for women suppressed by the burqa and also officials fearing security risks to oppose the wearing of a burqa. This enveloping garment prevents defining a woman’s body shape and also results in difficulties in identification.

The latter was brought to the surface recently when an Army Captain hiding beneath a burqa attempted to rob a bank in Kandy. The incident was shocking as it made people realize just how difficult it is to know the person beneath the burqa. It is definitely a foolproof disguise that is quite easy to obtain.An individual speaking on behalf of the Police Spokesperson commented that it is important to be aware of the different behaviors of a man and a woman. He also added that although during the years of conflict and war, clothing that prevents identification posed many security risks, during a supposed time of peace, it wasn’t posing any sort of threat. The Army Captain was suspected and searched by the officials due to his suspicious behavior which portrayed him both as a nervous individual and also a man in women’s clothing.

Always willing to deal with controversial issues, the Bodu Bala Sena Secretary, Ven. Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara Thera commented on the issue saying the organization has not taken any official action for the ban of the burqa and that it had only been brought in to discussions.The ACJU Media Coordinator Aslam Zubair said a ban of the burqa or any sort of clothing was unfair and breached human rights. He added that the burqa cannot be banned due to a handful of incidents. If such action is taken, sarongs and T-shirts should also be banned as they are often used by robbers to conceal their faces. Zubair explained that even talk of such a ban was an insult on both women and Muslims in general.

He also discussed social issues dealing with clothing. Prostitution and rape is often encouraged by the indecency in which the victims dress. He drew many comparisons, an important one being the following. Who is a man more aroused by, the fully covered Muslim lady or the half clad European woman? It is the latter than stirs a man within, no matter how religious or intelligent he is. Today most Muslim women have abandoned the burqa and others rarely cover their heads with a scarf. Zubair’s opinion on this is that such women need more education on Islam and they need to have more faith in the religion. Only the faithful put what they are told into practice and adorn the body-covering garment.

Looking at the Sri Lankan and mostly Buddhist culture, it is apparent that changes have been made to the traditional dress of the redda and hatta or cloth and jacket. The outfit that was once worn in a modest manner has now been reduced to a naval exposing, sleeveless dress. Aslam Zubair sadly commented that culture is changing too rapidly, and that too in a negative manner.

The burqa is reserved for the faithful Muslim lady and there is a certain beauty in a covered woman. People who do not respect other religions and beliefs feel no fear though to denounce such clothing and ‘borrow’ them for their personal evil purposes.  As a nation that is believed to promote a multicultural community, it is our duty to encourage the freedom to dress according to one’s beliefs. The sad truth though is simple; the actions of a few shameless individuals create uneasiness within this nation.

The Buddha is believed to have said, “If a person foolishly does me wrong, I will return to him the protection of my boundless love.” Buddhism encourages tolerance. So does Islam. Thus the wise man would rather tolerate and accept other religions and beliefs than try to ban the burqa.

The Nation
Sunday, 24 February 2013