THE depravity of mass killings, perpetrated on innocent people by lone or a small group of killers, overwhelmingly in the United States but also in parts of Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia — in fact no region of the world has been spared — is now only too familiar across the news waves.
The search for motives and trigger-factors, as well as how to address those causes continues unceasingly.
But, if we look deeply at the root of these deadly crimes, intolerance and hatred are
more culpable than any other elements that tend to dominate
discourse, such as religion, ethnicity, nationality, political affiliation, mental illness, radicalisation, ease of access to the means of killing and the like.
Curbing this “epidemic”, then, means dealing with intolerance and hate.
Subjugation of one by another; acts of bullying and humiliation; denying individuals their basic human, social, economic and political rights; discrimination in any form; and asserting one’s supposed superiority or privileged position over others, in time, will lead to intolerance and hatred, which in turn gives way to violence.
There is an urgent need to confront prejudice and hatred with education, information and knowledge; bigotry with tolerance; and isolation and deprivation with the outstretched hand of generosity.
The United Nations (UN) is committed to strengthening tolerance by fostering mutual understanding among cultures and peoples.
On Nov 16, 1995, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation member states adopted the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance.
The declaration affirms that tolerance is neither an indulgence nor indifference.
It is respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our cultures, forms of living, beliefs and expressions, as well as ways of being human.
This imperative lies at the core of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is more important than ever in this era of rising violence and extremism characterised by a fundamental disregard for human life.
In 1996, the UN General Assembly invited UN member states to observe each year the International Day for Tolerance, which falls on Nov 16.
Only through tolerance among those who want to put an end to intolerance, hatred and violence can we ensure our mutual survival and progress, as well as live amicably with each other in peace, security and justice.
Petaling Jaya, Selangor