I did something quite cathartic this morning. I took a car load of crap which had accumulated in the house to the tip. There is a good feeling when you get more space for all the things you need in your life, with fewer things cluttering the place.
It also gave me good thinking time whilst packing and driving, mostly about a conversation I had online with a friend regarding my post The Scottish Way, where we discussed faith schools and tolerance. It was a good, reasoned debate in which we disagreed with each other, as well as finding some common ground. The great thing was that I came away from it with some things to think about, which is the idea of my posts – to stimulate thought and discussion, swapping of ideas with others.
What I was thinking about was tolerance and what it really means. Tolerance is a reaction to something different to yourself, which you don’t really understand or agree with and letting it all happen without your involvement. In other words, live and let live, which is something with which I totally agree.
However, is there something condescending about toleration? As if you are somehow permitting it to happen with your consent? I’ve looked at dictionary definitions and all allude to this being the case. It grated with me that there is some form of consent in tolerance.
For me, it is far more than tolerance that we require in society today. I fully believe we need inclusion in communities to help us understand others and remove the differences by getting to know the people. Only one measure for me and that is whether that person is a twat or not. Yes, that’s subjective, but liking people for the content of their character is subjective and something I believe in strongly.
However, disliking someone for their skin colour or religion is not on, not even slightly.
I hear a lot of communities – Islamic, black, Jewish and even heard the other day someone saying the armed services community. We have lost the plot when it comes to community and what it means. It means people living in one area and is all inclusive. Instead of labeling with skin colour or religion or political beliefs, why don’t we just go back to the original idea of community, meaning your local area?
Then, and more controversially, why not take away faith schools and replace them with schools? Why have a predominant faith when there is public money in education? If there is a private school with private money, then take your choice, but I cannot see why taxes should fund anything more than education in schools. Faith schools had their day when churches filled a void that the state could not or would not fill. Kids were educated to a basic standard and it helped prove the requirement for primary education for every child.
That has carried on and we have faith schools which only demonstrate the differences in society. People have a right to faith, therefore do it out of school time and let kids be educated well in all subjects, even religion as a subject. At my daughter’s school, that’s what they teach – Philosophy, Beliefs & Ethics (PBE) and a wide variety of religions are studied as a subject. She has her own beliefs and understands what others believe, without necessarily agreeing. They learn to live and let live.
Kids aren’t born hating, they don’t see colour or religion or any difference as something to fear or hate, they just see a person. It’s when adults get involved, putting their beliefs and prejudices on their kids, teaching them that the differences matter. Then kids go to different schools from the same street to show the tribe to which they belong, instead of walking together to their school, to learn together.
I am reminded of the words of Morgan Freeman, when asked about racism. His response was perfect. “Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.” How do we stop religious bigotry? Stop talking about it, live and be educated together from a young age, call each other people.
I see people as people, regardless of their beliefs and ethnicity. I treat them as I like to be treated, until they prove otherwise. As said earlier, I measure a person on the basis on whether or not they are a twat.
Surely this is not beyond us?