It’s fair to say that we have had an interesting start to 2017, and we are indeed living in interesting, if not very serious, times.
Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in America seem to have unleashed a tsunami of bigotry, hatred and intolerance. I have been astonished, but not surprised, by the sheer volume of hatred and prejudice spouted by politicians, commentators, the media and members of the public. It’s almost as if we have not learnt the lessons of history and we have forgotten that normalising and accepting this mindset, can lead to discrimination, violence and even genocide.
We pride ourselves on being a fair and tolerant nation. However, it’s clear that we are forgetting our values. Tolerance is supposed to be the glue that helps to bind us together as nation, but is tolerance enough? Aren’t we better than that?
We tolerate bad weather, insects, late running trains, loud headphones on the bus, poor service in a restaurant etc. Tolerance is about putting up with things that you don’t like. But shouldn’t we expect more from each other? I ask again, aren’t we better than just tolerating each other?
If we truly want to be a great nation and we want to isolate the extremists and those who wish to divide us, then we should include ‘mutual respect’ as one of our values.
Respect is important because it means that I value you as a human being. We may not agree on everything and we may have differences, but I value you. I value your rights and your freedoms. I respect your gender and ethnicity. And I simply want you to respect and value me. If we all adhered to those principles then we could really call ourselves a great people and a great nation.
However, people will only respect you if you respect yourself. People will only respect us, if we respect them.
As the Chinese philosopher Confucius said “respect yourself and others will respect you”.
Stay focused and stay blessed.