Recently, I came across an article called Tolerance is beneath us (April 1) and a letter to the editor titled Christians more than accepting (April 20). I was moved to share my own experiences as a person who has called Canada home since 1982.
I respect both viewpoints, as they speak to the personal experiences of the writers. There are practices in life that we may not accept but that we tolerate and learn to respect, provided they do not lead to harmful outcomes or actions.
Respecting the views of those whose faiths, traditions and cultures differ from our own is not a simple task. Tolerance may be the initial step towards this goal, although, there still remains a great distance between our current state and viewing humanity as one family.
History is an illustration of the injustices that we have perpetrated on each other. Upon reflection, directing blame, time after time, has proved fruitless, while concentrating on the positive deeds that often arise as a reaction to these injustices has proved prosperous. Although fanaticism, imperialism, prejudice, poverty and overconsumption of resources has existed, moderation, selflessness, goodwill, abundance and conservation exist in parallel.
I came to Canada escaping religious persecution from Iran in 1982. I was in another country when the revolution unfolded, and the Iranian embassy in the Philippines refused to renew my passport due to my religion had become ‘stateless’ in the matter of a few minutes. As a consequence of my upbringing, I was overcome with a feeling that the whole earth was my country now.
I have lived in Canada over the past 35 years and I am thankful daily with every fiber of my being that I live in a place that respects different beliefs, different cultures and different traditions.
I arrived in Vancouver with only a few hundred dollars in my pocket and a bachelor’s university degree. I did not receive a penny of government support.
My first job was dishwashing in a busy restaurant near Kitsilano. My job started at 4 p.m. and ended at 12:30 a.m. After work, I made my way home by public transportation, which sometimes took two hours.
I slept on a couch in the living room of a kind couple. I never knew them before. It was their belief in the ‘oneness of humanity’ that enabled their hearts to welcome me into their home like their own family.
It was in Canada that I learned how to practise the concepts I had learned as a child, that the principle of the ‘oneness of humanity’ was the inevitable next stage in the evolution of humanity.
Here, we do not necessarily share the beliefs, cultures or traditions of others, or always agree with them, but we often take an initial first step by tolerating them, and slowly we learn to respect them.
The road to understanding starts with the first step of tolerance. This may mean we need to understand and put into practice many skills and principles such as: freedom from prejudice, equality of the sexes, importance of universal education, the centrality of justice to all human endeavours, the harmony of science and religion and more.
Throughout Canada’s history, it has welcomed many people and has slowly become an example to the rest of the world. Our commitment to learn how to live together in harmony and how to be a member of one human family will prevail.
This is our gift to the world, which is in desperate need of the principle of the oneness of humanity.
Farrah Marasco, Surrey