by Donella Hosten
“Think Tolerance First” is the theme chosen by Grenada, as the country joins with other UNESCO member states to observe Wednesday, 16 November 2016, as the International Day for Tolerance.
The International Day for Tolerance was marked and assigned in 1995 by UNESCO, and is used by a number of groups and organisations around the world to raise awareness about the implementation of tolerance in one’s daily life.
For the entire week, a number of groups, schools and organisations in Grenada will be engaging in educational activities teaching persons about being tolerant of one’s rights, beliefs and opinions.
16 November is also recognised by activists as a day to educate persons about discrimination against minority and marginalised groups. In this light, the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) of St George’s University and the Students with Right Attitudes (SRA) have partnered with a local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) — Grenada Human Rights Organisation (GHRO), to raise awareness about tolerance.
The official message from UNESCOs Director–General, Irina Bokova, which was read in a number of schools during their morning assemblies, called on all UNESCO members to build societies that are more peaceful and prosperous as a result of tolerance.
“In a world of diversity, tolerance is a prerequisite for peace. It is also a lever for sustainable development, as it encourages the construction of more inclusive and thus more resilient societies that are able to draw on the ideas, creative energy and talents of each of their members.”
Her message went on, “We must remember the historical facts, recall how peoples and identities have mingled, engendering richer, more complex cultures with multiple identities. Using the living testimony of world heritage sites, we can show that no culture has ever grown in isolation and that diversity is a strength, not a weakness. We must say again that tolerance is not naive or passive acceptance of difference; it is a fight for the respect of fundamental rights.”
In an interview with Mr Milton Coy, representative of GHRO, he reiterated the importance of tolerance in society, not only in schools but also in the workplace. He briefly made mention of the theme chosen, indicating that they would like people to be more tolerant instead of opting for violence. Mr Coy said it is okay to walk away from confrontation, instead of reacting negatively.
He went on to say that his organisation would be going out to a number of public places, including the Spiceland Mall on Saturday, 19 November 2016 during the afternoon, to disseminate information about tolerance. There, too, would be the launching of The Book of Tolerance — which comprises artwork, poetry and essays by students in the SRA programme, regarding combating intolerance in society.
A visit is planned on Saturday to the former Chief SRA Mentor, Sir Carlyle Glean.