Eliminating acts of intolerance, discrimination and hate crimes through Education

We live in a world that is so interconnected despite the vastness of distances between every continent, country, and town to the other.  One basic reason for our connection is that we are all human. We may speak different languages, have diverse cultures and practices, but we are intuitively the same: we are humans.

This is the thread that binds us together despite the many different experiences they may have defined our ideologies, and preferences. Somebody born in the Himalayas is not necessarily different from the one born in Northern Ireland. They may each have very different outlook and perspective on life, but essentially the expectation the same: everyone wants to live happy, find meaning and enjoy their life on earth. Why should anyone be denied these basic rights?

To live as though others do not exist or that they do not matter is a crime on the right to live. When we discriminate against another tribe, ethnicity, religion, preference, and class –we deny others the right to enjoy their life in peace. When we utter hurtful words that kill the spirit of another, we deny them the right to a wholesome existence. We can no longer pretend that these things do not matter. Else, we pretend that we are an island to ourselves, and others do not exist.

This should be the narrative: we are humans, and every life matter. There is an evil under the sun beyond the evil of those who perpetuate acts of discrimination, intolerance and hate crimes. There is the evil of nonchalance. When we see that intolerance, discrimination and hate crimes are filling the airwaves, social media, our communities, and institution, and yet do nothing –we also are perpetuating the continuum of evil. This is an evil in itself.

Education is by far the greatest legacy we can bequeath to the next generation of leaders, policy makers, fathers, mothers, and citizens of the world. Education – far beyond the walls of the classroom – is the strongest seed for an all-inclusive future where we are more tolerant. Education has taken the world from the caveman days to where we are today. Some might argue that education has done more harm than good. Maybe because we are a more knowledgeable society, a better informed people who know their rights and can fight for it. Nonetheless, where would we have been without education? In the dark and scratching stones for light. In fear, and killing twins based on superstitions. In ignorance, and living from hand to mouth. Education does far more good than bad.

Our young people need to be taught the lessons of tolerance. We need to engage the narrative in our school curriculums, school clubs, and extra-curricular activities.  We need to equip our teachers with the right communication materials for transferring the message of tolerance. The first step to coming out of nonchalance is embracing every form of activism that promote peace and tolerance. Education for tolerance should aim at countering influences that lead to fear and exclusion of others, and should help young people develop capacities for independent judgement, critical thinking and ethical reasoning.

We must creatively employ the existing structures in our institution and family to teach the lessons of tolerance and peace, and to curb the rise of intolerance, discrimination and hate crimes. Younger children can be taught not to bully, use curse words, and discriminate based on gender, class or intelligence.

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