Fri, 24 Nov 2000

Learn to live and let live

Recent articles in your paper have given me considerable pause for thought. Perhaps paradoxically, in this time of new openness in Indonesia, there seems to be evidence of a growing tide of intolerance that should perhaps worry people.

People are increasingly being forced to accept the demands of unrepresentative religious extremists that may run contrary to their own cultural beliefs. These extremists, rather unfairly, I feel, seem to make no allowances for those that they dictate to.

I had always been under the perhaps mistaken impression that monotheisms largely professed to be tolerant of other beliefs. If I am correct in this, it does seem rather unfortunate that this message has been lost on those who are most vocal in their profession of faith.

Arguably, if events continue in the same vein, those who will learn most are people who are forced to learn tolerance and acceptance for the intolerance that they suffer at the hands of others. Another paradox, perhaps -- given that the upcoming month of fasting is perhaps meant to serve as a period of learning and tolerance for those who seek to oppress them.

Ultimately, I wonder if the roles were reversed -- if these extremists were to face the same type of dictates and restrictions, had their behavior in their everyday lives threatened -- whether they would begin to understand the unfairness of their demands and perhaps become more tolerant of the differences that exist between different people. Could they perhaps learn to live and let live?

As a layman, it is quite possible that I do not fully understand this issue and I would welcome any insights into this thorny issue.