“We live in a world of intolerance masked as tolerance” (Rush Limbaug, The Rush Limbaugh Show, March 7, 2012)
Pakistan is fast becoming an intolerant society, thanks to unequal distribution of resources and wealth. The rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer, leading to frustration and anxiety.
We cannot ignore intolerance because of its silent negative impact on the lives of the people. The lack of education and health facilities for the poor segments of the society leads them towards extremism, which Pakistan is facing for at least over two decades.
The responsibility lies on us, especially religious scholars, intellectuals and literary stalwarts, to help reduce intolerance by making efforts to end people’s frustration and anxiety.
Unfortunately, a large number of children do not attend schools in Pakistan, which increases deprivation and also gives rise to criminal activities. Education is the key to a tolerant society and it is our responsibility to spread education and give awareness to the people about its importance.
Another major ingredient of intolerance is non-acceptance of other’s existence. We do not accept the values, perceptions and beliefs of other people, which give birth to injustice and resulted in an intolerant society.
“The greatest problem in the world today is intolerance. Everyone is so intolerant of each other” (Lady Dianna)
Road rage incidents are on the rise in Pakistan, especially in the mega port city of Karachi. Even small irritants such as slow movement of a car or a delay in responding to traffic lights fuel anger among the drivers. Everyone, not only on the roads, but in daily routine life, remains in a rush.
The ratio of divorce cases in Pakistan has reached an alarming level because couples are not ready to accept the fact that the life partner also has the right to live according to his or her understanding and beliefs. The basic problem is that we all want to impose our decisions on others, which creates problems in every relationship and leads to frustration.
Similarly, in the past few years, we have lost several valuable human lives because of intolerance in our society. It is the responsibility of all of us, especially parents and teachers to play due role in upbringing of children.
The teachers and parents should help children in controlling anger and should avoid comparison with other children, as it leads to frustration and promote jealously. Rather, they should create such an environment where children should know how to deal with stress and its consequences.
In Pakistan, when we talk about intolerance our minds directly think of a religious intolerance, in which people are being killed on one reason or the other, but, in fact, we as a society are all responsible for such behaviour. The country’s economic ills are also linked with intolerance in the form of unequal distribution of resources, either by federal government or by provincial setups, leading to civil disobedience-like situation.
In a broader sense, intolerance is an individual behaviour, but it can be controlled by spreading awareness about the negative impacts. Therefore, besides government, the civil society, layman, and media should take the issue seriously and make efforts to eradicate, or at least, lower the incidences of intolerance.
To start with, our politicians should bring change in their behaviours by showing tolerance to their opponents, rather than promoting intolerance in television talk shows on a daily basis. Giving respect to opponents will certainly promote tolerance in the society because the followers and supporters of political parties or religious groups will also follow the suit.
With the politicians, media houses also have to play a proactive role in bringing changes to the society, as being one of the most powerful tool, television channels and the people at the helm of affairs in these institutions can mould the attitudes of the people towards a prosperous life.
Ironically, we are still not ready to accept intolerance as an ailment, which is taking roots in our society, mainly due to non-implementation of laws. Now is the time, we as a nation take full responsibility for salvaging the sinking ship, before it is too late.