A darker side is re-emerging and gaining ground. There is an increase in xenophobia, homophobia, discrimination, racism, religious intolerance and attacks on minorities – fuelled by far-right and populist agendas – and all too often by religious extremists.
Far-right parties are gaining ground in Europe at an increasingly alarming speed. The recent disgraceful video and cartoon insults on Prophet Muhammad, and the controversial adverts in New York subway stations with the intent to insult and incite hatred, in the name of “free speech”, are examples of undue intolerance. Free speech should not be misused to deliberately insult. With freedom comes responsibility.
We are seeing intolerance across the board, creating fear of others different from ‘us’, arising out of an anxiety over financial and economic uncertainty in Europe and political uncertainty in the Middle East, reinforced by hate-filled, extremist rhetoric appealing to concerns for our own well-being and security – claiming that we should fear one another. Opinions that once would have been considered derogatory are slowly filtering into mainstream parties. It is negative rhetoric that speaks to people’s fears and emotions, it is scaremongering that is irrational – yet it is effective because fear stops people from thinking rationally. This increase of intolerance is happening worldwide. It is intolerance easily provoked by economic hardship and it is very, very dangerous.
We know from history that there is no neutrality, no standing on the sidelines in situations of injustice and oppression. What we are seeing is a reflection of our inner beings, a mirror to our global soul that something is amiss. We are letting our fears divide us. Let’s not allow prejudice, hatred and negative judgments to separate us from one another again. Let us not forget our history, and be mindful that victims can and do turn into perpetrators. The awful history of the holocaust in Europe, apartheid in South Africa and genocides in Rwanda and the Balkans – history that is repeating itself as we write. If we keep on neglecting past causes and trigger events we are doomed to repeat them all again and again. There is no security from the barrel of a gun, and ultimately, no happiness living in fortresses or in polluted environments.
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You may also find on Amazon Desmond Tutu’s book God Is Not A Christian, and Other Provocations.