Global Q&A: ‘Do you think you live in a tolerant society?’

May 20, 2010 Updated: May 21, 2010

From tolerance with no end to zero tolerance, these are the extremes that societies are gravitating toward. This is what The Epoch Times reporters from the Netherlands to India discovered when they asked locals: “Do you think you live in a tolerant society?”

Maria Elena, 60, Architect.
Maria Elena, 60, Architect.
Canary Islands, Spain
Maria Elena, 60, Architect

Yes, we do, but sadly, I think that in excess. We’ve moved from a sometimes too restrictive society to the other extreme, where tolerance is allowed with no end, especially from parent to children, but also in many other strata of society. As it usually happens, we are on a pendulum moving from side to side unable to find a proper middle way. Frankly, seeing things as they are now, not being fond of too many restrictions I think is a better solution than what we have now.

 

Desiree Bergers, 42, Lawyer.
Desiree Bergers, 42, Lawyer.
Utrecht, Netherlands
Desiree Bergers, 42, Lawyer

Yes and no. We tend to be egocentric at times. Look at how people behave in traffic; there’s zero tolerance there. We do have an immigration policy where we accept and invite refugees. But we tend to think selectively about which rules apply to us and others. We select some rules to be most important and abide by them, and expect others to abide by them while dismissing rules we find less important. We choose not to abide by these rules that might well be thought of as important by others. So we’re not that tolerant.

 

G.B. Luthria, 77, Businessman.
G.B. Luthria, 77, Businessman.
Bangalore, India
G.B. Luthria, 77, Businessman

Yes, we live in a tolerant society; people are more civilized. I believe with the economic pressure increasing, people are bothered about their own business, rather than looking into the problems of others, or envying others. In general, there is peace among people, except for the politicians, who try to stir up the sentiments of people and sometimes are successful in creating flares in a city/country.

 

 

 

Elisa Francese, 38, Customer Care.
Elisa Francese, 38, Customer Care.
Biella, Italy
Elisa Francese, 38, Customer Care

Unfortunately, the Italian society is becoming increasingly intolerant. News reports more often have stories of this type; anything that is different is tolerated up to the poor children left without food because they have no money for the canteen, or the proposals to register Roma children by taking their fingerprints. I think this trend is widespread, and unfortunately, those who govern or administer, instead of leading by example, often fuel these feelings.

Note: Roma people, known in Italy as “nomads,” are originally from abroad; many are living in encampments on the edges of cities.

Lee Elias Tembo, 26, Social Worker and Facilitator.
Lee Elias Tembo, 26, Social Worker and Facilitator.
Czech Republic (Zambian living in Czech Republic)
Lee Elias Tembo, 26, Social Worker and Facilitator

Well, that’s a good question. Some of them [Czechs] are tolerant and some are not. Of course, I’ve had different experiences, so I can say some are and some are not.

 

 

 

 

Therezinha Gomes, 60, Retired Educator.
Therezinha Gomes, 60, Retired Educator.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Therezinha Gomes, 60, Retired Educator

No, because nobody tolerates anything nowadays. People often get very stressed with everything. Because of a mere complaint in a traffic jam, you could be killed. Unemployment, lack of dwelling, poor family structure … all of that leads people to become intolerant with everything.

 

 

 

Christer Kallner, 42, Artist.
Christer Kallner, 42, Artist.
Aneby, Sweden
Christer Källner, 42, Artist

In Sweden, we can set our own terms of reference for what tolerance is. You can feel the mood of society, but you yourself also have an impact on it. The Law of Jante* also plays a role in what may be perceived as for what is 'OK' in society. It is not easy to stand out, and even if it is not intended to stand out, it can easily be perceived that way.

Note: * The Jante Law refers to a pattern of group behavior toward individuals within Scandinavian communities that negatively portrays and criticizes success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate.

Jitka Rackova, 31, Shop Assistant.
Jitka Rackova, 31, Shop Assistant.
Otrokovice, Czech Republic
Jitka Rackova, 31, Shop Assistant

I believe tolerance could be wider here; people are not as much honestly tolerant and I also think that the freedom of one starts where the freedom of another ends. If everybody could be more tolerant, the world would certainly be better.

 

 

 

 

Pino Flego, 49, IT Professional.
Pino Flego, 49, IT Professional.
Mudgeeraba, Australia
Pino Flego, 49, IT Professional

I would say no. I think we live in a society that is actually reserved with each other, so we don’t care about each other anymore. We go to work, and come home and have a stubby at home and watch TV, and that’s all. We don’t socialize anymore as it used to be, or as maybe we [origin Switzerland] in Europe are a bit different, maybe more, but not necessarily. People should be more open, communicate more, and tolerate each other, especially when we care for each other, we should be more open than reserved, closed, and just walk away.


Look for the Global Q&A column every week. Epoch Times correspondents interview people around the world to learn about their lives and perspectives on local and global realities. Next week’s global question: “Are you satisfied with your quality of life? Is there anything you’d like to change?”