Recently the US President Barrack Obama made a statement about how religious intolerance in India would have shocked Gandhi. I have a problem with that statement. To be precise, I have a problem with just two words in that statement – religious intolerance.
People often use the word “intolerance” when talking about religion. What they don’t realize is when they use the word intolerance they are implying that people should tolerate religions other than their own. And there lies the problem.
We shouldn’t ask people to “tolerate” other religions. Rather we should ask them to “accept” and “respect” other religions. There is a huge difference here. I completely understand what people mean when they use the word intolerance. However, I believe if you are expected to simply tolerate people of another faith and what they believe in, you are unknowingly treading on a very fine line. Pretty soon something will happen or someone will say something that will cross the limits of your tolerance.
Tolerance for me would mean looking at a temple or mosque and turning my head in another direction. Acceptance would be marveling its beauty, appreciating its architecture and maybe taking a picture of my motorcycle in front of it and posting on Facebook.
I hope you get what I’m trying to say here. If everyone starts to do this, especially those who think strongly about their own faith, all our “religions intolerance” problems will be over very quickly.