No time like the present to practise tolerance

Cape Town Pride 2020 on February 29, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town Pride is an annual event that celebrates cultural diversity and creates awareness on LGBTIQ issues in South Africa and beyond.
Cape Town Pride 2020 on February 29, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town Pride is an annual event that celebrates cultural diversity and creates awareness on LGBTIQ issues in South Africa and beyond.
Image: Brenton Geach

After the virus news brings headaches — not so much because of the general restrictions under which we are labouring, as in this, we are united, but because tolerance is at an all-time low.

Four years ago, I argued for a more tolerant universe.

It seems apt as a reminder now. Quite prophetic, really.

I grew up in a richly diverse environment, as my parents were philosophical adventurers and keen readers.

This meant that we had a big library — both in our home and inside our heads.

From an early age, I was taught to think critically and live flexibly, as my parents followed a simple ethos — we’re all created equal under the sun.

My grandparents thought the same thing and so I was doubly influenced.

That they and my parents diverged on religion was a non-issue — my granny and grandpa were staunch Catholics, but my parents were not.

It really didn’t matter because their mutual core was the same — be nice.

Thanks to the spirited and open-minded nature of my extended family, I got to know many different people, faiths, persuasions and viewpoints.

It’s still that way. We have in our clan a minister, a Protestant, one or two Catholics, a humanist, an atheist and an agnostic.

Some are on-the-fencers, two believe in heaven, two don’t and one of us almost became a priest.

In short, we are a rainbow tribe.

And that’s just us — my friends are an even larger bag of allsorts.

I count committed Christians among my mates, a handful of Jews, a few Muslims, a pagan, many staunch pro- and anti-Trumpists and a growing number of straightforward environmentalists.

I like it this way, because the more I’m exposed to other points of view, the more I realise how small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things.

Whatever anyone’s inclination or preference, I tend to adopt a relatively humanist view when faced with fanaticism and rigid mindsets; if you can’t come from a place of love, reason and empathy — which are the best bits of our complex humanity — then why come at all?

I suspect that if people are negative, authoritative, condescending or despotic where their beliefs are concerned, they’ve missed the point.

And we should avoid them as fervently as they pursue us.

In my view, life is quite simple — only humans make it complicated.

X