International Day of Tolerance: Celebrate Diversity Together

By: Luis Edward Tenorio

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Wednesday, November 16 is International Day for Tolerance. How can intolerance be countered? 5 ideas are here: http://j.mp/vLqWVk  

The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election has been an important time in American history.

For the past few days, emotions have run high. And yet, the sun sets and rises, and the world continues moving. In the current political climate, tolerance is needed more than ever to bridge divides between Americans, and the International Day of Tolerance, celebrated in November, is a perfect reminder on how to build this tolerance on our campuses and in our communities. It will take love to build tolerance.

The first form of this love is internal. In times such as these it is easy to continue to wedge divides. It is easy to allow anger and frustration to give birth to hate. However, this is purely antithetical to our cause. We must, instead, turn inward and practice self-love and love for our communities. Many of you reading this are probably stewards in your communities – communities of immigrants, of women, of LGBTQ people, of people of color, or of first nation and indigenous peoples – or at the very least you are allies to these and other communities. As stewards, as leaders, we have a responsibility to protect our communities, to help them heal, but above all, to make sure they know they are loved. Second, we have a responsibility to help move our communities into action, to bolster spaces for the community near and far, to foster inclusion, and to promote this very love internally practiced across communities.

This means acknowledging that not everyone processes in the same way or same form. This means acknowledging that everyone has a different form of participating – that not everyone will be a protestor in the streets or an active online champion – but that everyone can indeed participate in some way, shape, or form. This means valuing the way in which each individual is an important part of the community. This means validating people’s hopes, fears, and aspirations.

The second form of this love is outward. Those of us that are stewards, must acknowledge the

privilege that got us to these positions and by the same means exercise that privilege to build bridges across communities. We have to go outward, with open minds and open hearts to those that we saw against us. We must listen – though perhaps we may not agree. We must find common ground – though it may seem slim. We must heal divides – though at times it may seem one-sided. We must because we are one country and one world. We must because while many of our communities have historically been taxed with having to carry out this work, in its absence it is our very communities that will continue to suffer disproportionately.

This second form, is perhaps the most difficult. It is one that even I, myself, struggle with as I make this call to action. Though if I have faith in anything at all, it is that it is indeed possible. Having had exposure to a variety of levels of government and advocacy, to people across all walks of life and part of practically every beam in a spectrum of human background and experience, I have seen it. When we get involved in spaces such as the United Nations, we see it. When we come together in times of hardship, we see it. When we humble ourselves and speak to one another’s core humanity, we see it. However, it takes practice. It takes patience. And above all, it takes self-love and love within communities to happen.

The times that lie ahead will not be simple, neat, or certain. Yet, we must remind ourselves that even before the events of this week, they never were, and that is why we continue to do the work that we all do. Our work, our voices, our presence, and our love is needed now more than ever.

We as youth, as Americans, as global citizens, must continue to fight the good fight, for what we believe, and to materialize every ounce of hope and every pillar of the vision for the future we hold.

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