Monday, July 11, 2005

Tolerance

Stuff often amuses me. This morning is a fabulous example of their 'subtle' manipulation. There's a photograph of a Muslim man staring bleakly through a broken window. Below, there's a poll: Is New Zealand becoming a less tolerant and accepting society? Right now it's running at about 65-35 to the 'yes' vote. Less tolerant than when? Thirty years ago when no-one here knew what a mosque was?

Okay, yes, I admit it. While I'm here as a voter rather than a political pundit, what I have in common with the pundits is that sometimes the stupidity of the 'average voter' makes me want to spit. While I'm never going to be swayed by what it says on page 128 of your party's manifesto or notice any policy you can't get media coverage for, at least I don't change my mind on fundamentals every time someone writes a headline.

I loathe the word 'tolerance'. I know this is nitpicky of me, and it doesn't stop me donating to religioustolerance.org. But I'd rather use the word 'acceptance' - tolerance is for things you don't like but can't do anything about. Family Christmases, for instance.

New Zealand is, slowly and stably, becoming a more accepting country. I was raised in a very white town, completely monocultural. My children attend a school that's about 50% pakeha, 25% Samoan, and the rest made up of pretty much anything you can name. Somali, Afghani, Chinese... and the thing is, the kids aren't tolerant of each other. They just don't notice. They don't notice race. It's not a factor.

Unfortunately, in the wake of the mosque vandalism, we're way behind when it comes to religion. Despite the fact that it's illegal to teach religion in state primary schools, they're still singing hymns in assembly, teaching "Easter" as a topic (we were assured this would be balanced by teaching on other religions, that was three years ago, we're still waiting), giving chocolate to children who can correctly answer Bible questions, organising school trips to Bible shows...

"Community" is a really difficult thing to define, intangible, and yet I've never had the slightest doubt that, because our family isn't Christian, we don't quite belong in the school community. At least I was raised in the traditions and can fake it when necessary. I can only imagine how much worse it is for the families at that school who are Hindu, Muslim, Shinto...

A dear friend of mine put it beautifully. Religion belongs in your heart, in your home, and in your church if you have one. But not at school.

6 Comments:

Anonymous TP said...

well said. but a-hem < I must point out my tolerance is such that I send my kid to a religious school,where it does belong! (I'm not actually a memebr of that religion) LOL. Not being a pedant or anything.

9:49 pm  
Blogger Ghet said...

You wanna get me started on integrated schools? No?

No, obviously you know I don't have a problem with that, and it was sloppy, I should have said 'state' schools.

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