14December2017

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Understanding tolerance in social life

Twenties years ago, precisely on November 16, 1995, at the initiative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization -UNESCO, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Principles of Tolerance. Since then, November 16 has always been commemorated as International Tolerance Day.  One way to tolerate is to allow freedom of speech to flourish in society. The problem arises, when there is a group of people who want to affirm dominance over other groups, in ways that actually hurt tolerance itself. So, understanding about freedom of expression is important for tolerance. There are two principles that underline freedom of expression. First, it aims to spread tolerance towards others. Second, it is not used to harm others, physically and psychologically, for no legitimate reason according to morals and laws. The two principles are so attached to each other that they cannot be separated. Therefore, the freedom of expression has its limits. Consequently, there is a line that separates between areas where people are required to apply tolerance to areas where tolerance is bad for humanity.  Living the social life cannot be denied; there will be friction or misunderstanding that will occur among groups of people, whether related to religion or race. To maintain unity in society, everybody must respect each other to avoid disputes or conflicts which can arise in the background of increasingly tense relations among religious communities. The causes of tension among religious people are for examples: the lack of knowledge of the followers of their own religion and of other religions, and the lack of mutual understanding in the face of the dissent issue. In addition, there is often a suspicion of other parties, whether among people with different religions, internal problem among religious communities, or between religious communities and the government.  Tolerance can only be achieved if each group respects each other. In religious life, if this attitude can be realized, it will have significant meaning for the progress and life of plural society. In the opening of the 1945 Constitution article 29 paragraph 2, it has been stated that "The State guarantees the independence of every citizen to embrace his own religion and to worship according to his or her religion and belief." So, Indonesian citizens naturally understand each other's rights and obligations, maintain the integrity of the state, and uphold the attitude of mutual tolerance in the nation and religion. How elegant if each party, ethnic and religious group is tolerant and not arrogant. Because this country has been founded not only by people with one particular religion, but also by those with other religions.

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