1. For new life in Jesus Christ where I live for Him and for His glory
2. For all of the beautiful truths and riches in God’s Word that have sustained my wonder and amazement all these years
3. For godly parents and Christian siblings who have loved me and shown me grace and built me up as a person to know and serve The Lord
4. For an education which has cultivated my character, honed my mind and established my faith
5. For an imperfect but healthy body which God has given me to steward
6. For a church which is human, full of sin and disaster, but sovereignly guarded by God’s grace and not abandoned by and to His purposes
7. For a nation in which justice and righteousness is upheld, rule of law is stable and discharged, where governing authorities are true, where man has liberty to practice faith and freedom
8. For a professional occupation in which I pursue God’s calling and I can serve His purposes under secular employment and do meaningful, remunerated work
9. For wealth that God has given me to bless and serve others and enjoy His provision
10. For friends who love and care for me though I and they are both imperfect, and are willing to befriend me as an individual, not a resource or tool but a person
Today at the Conversation meeting at SST, I decided to muster my courage and make a comment about how racial tolerance is not the same as racial harmony. There was a Muslim Malay fellow educator present, but I thought what the heck, since we’re doing a no holds barred discussion, why not? VPs and other middle management staff all around, but oh well, into the pond we wade.
So I explained that in an ideal world, racial and religious tolerance exists when we have differences and yet we persist in maintaining our civic respect and deference to one and another’s rights to belief instead of imposing, ignoring or caricaturing what others think and feel. This results in healthy dialogue, discussion, and cultivation of genuine respect. This kind of ‘tolerance’ then agrees to respect differences after they have been voiced, dialogued over, and mutually understood.
However, what we practice today is a form of tolerance that is so wary of the individual to discuss and learn from one another, so much so that we passively just sit and endure one another’s existence. Yes, we might compromise pragmatically for mutual convenience, but inside, our attitudes towards these foreign and different groups are anything but positive or respectful. We caricature them, distance from them, and God forbid that we should talk to them, or worse, disagree with them. Consequently, we live in a politically correct age with little real understanding or sharing of common ground.
It woudl be plenty to suggest a move from the current ‘tolerance’ to the other sense of the word tolerance (as per the second paragraph) suggested though going one step further into harmony. How might we learn from one another? Dialogue, question, query and even disagree with one another? Of course, ultimately, our harmony depends on our ability to respectfully and healthily tolerate one another’s different beliefs, but to harmonize means surely more than that. Of course, I do not advocate a blind celebration of differences in a stereotypical fashion, but how might we have different races in true harmonization?
The answer to that elusive question, is surely, only when we something that makes us sing together to harmonize about - something much bigger than mere national identity.