Positive Indications for Tolerance
- Rule of law. Say more–what law? What makes law good? Rights and privileges guaranteed to all individuals rather than associated with groups and group affiliation. While also allowing individual right to voluntary affiliation with identity-generating groups or institutions.
Honest civil service free of corruption
Education, especially of women
Reduction of ethnic, tribal, and religious hatred and strife
Development of local social capital–trust across people from different groups; ability to trust people you don’t know
Religiously based commitment to the acceptance and recognition of God’s love for all people
Ordinary people realizing their own hopes and aspirations are shared by others.
Guarantees of access to rights, protections, and economic opportunities provided to all regardless of group membership.
Forces Enhancing Tolerance
Open, unintimidated media
Mingled experiences with others, intermarriage (?–didn’t work in Rwanda)
Open debate about society’s goals and challenges
Independent, unintimidated judiciary
Forces Against Tolerance
Government controlled media
Corrupt tribal or ethnically based regimes in multi-ethnic, multi-religion societies
Declining economies, increasing poverty
Rights, privileges, and property allocated by group identity/affiliation
Lack of facts about the situation, beliefs, and values of others accompanied by extreme demonization of the other
Anti-modernism, anti-democracy ideologies
Religious teaching that encourages hatred and distrust of other religions
Demonization or de-humanization of “other”
Consequences of Intolerance
Ethnically based politics
Declining investment in healthcare infrastructure and re-appearance of diseases (sleeping sickness, eradicated in 1965, reappeared in 20001)
Impediments to work that improves tolerance
Deliberate government manipulation of ethnic rivalries
Ethnic, tribal, or religious identity as ultimate goals
Small radii of trust
Local loyalties maintained by fear of larger events and trends
Possible areas of study
History of racism in the United States from the Civil War to the present
Specific regional studies with a focus on the early stages of strife
Successful efforts at reconciliation or positive approaches
- Rwanda post-genocide
South Africa post-apartheid
- Northern Ireland after “the troubles?”
Ghana’s conscious effort to avoid the troubles experienced in neighboring countries, especially Nigeria
Religions with acceptance of other religions as a fundamental principle: Quakers, B’hai
Within less tolerant religions (Hinduism, Islam, Christianity) organizations and leaders whohave a more tolerant outlook
What is the positive role of identity in contrast to assertions of identity that foster intolerance?
What is the role of memory and when does memory reinforce intolerance conflicts?
How do economic conditions, politics, and government policy reinforce or ameliorate ethnic intolerance?
Akyeampong, Emmanuel Kwaku. Disease in West African History, ch. 9 in Themes in West Africa’s History. Ohio University Press. 2006. ↩︎