Sat | Aug 18, 2018

Intolerance is senseless

Published:Tuesday | June 14, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Living in Jamaica, it is not unsurprising that many of those who have been talking about the Orlando mass shooting on our street corners aren't too sad that it happened at a gay nightclub.

Of course, while I do respect their right to think that way, I really cannot agree with their views. When will we ever learn that intolerance doesn't work anymore?

It was just about a year or so ago that a white man entered a black church in that same country and shot several worshippers, just because he didn't like black church people. I can still remember the streetside conversations about why people should not be killed just because they may be 'different' - whatever that difference may be. It would seem that we Jamaicans don't mind people being "different" as long as they are not gay.

Over the centuries, mankind has tried advancing his lot with all kinds of systems that promote intolerance, and all of them, sooner or later, end in failure.

Hitler tried to build an empire devoid of Jews. In the process, he lost some of his best scientists - which definitely cost him dearly in the end. The United States, Britain and others tried to exclude blacks and other minorities in times past, only to realise that such structures eventually held them back. Even in recent times, we see countries like Zimbabwe, Rwanda and parts of the Middle East attempting to exclude people who are 'different' - with disastrous results.

All of these learning processes may have been necessary, but one would have thought that we should have learned from them by now.

Indeed, what we have learned, albeit over time, is that there is great strength and power in diversity. Maybe the day will come when all of us Jamaicans, and everybody else, for that matter, will understand that the right to disagree does not necessarily mean the right to impose.