Madhavi Gavini

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Please promote religious tolerance on a personal level

Religious tolerance - for sure is a sensitive topic. It is 2012 and still the majority of the world wide unrest is religion based ,intra-religious and inter-religious intolerance. I practice hinduism and I have lived harmoniously with people from different religious backgrounds throughout my life. I respect other religious views just as I appreciate any different non-religious opinions. It pains me to see the pandemic of religious intolerance and bloodshed all over the world. We can prevent the spread of hatred one person at a time, without finger pointing or denigrating any religion/religious views.

  • Sep 16 2012: We can respect the person even when we cannot respect that person's beliefs.

    Respect for the person means respecting their right to believe what they will.

    This is necessarily a two-way relationship. When people do not respect other people, there will be trouble.

    I have often thought that what many call tolerance is just good manners.
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    Sep 16 2012: Hi Madhavi, I commend your intent in calling for religious tolerance.

    But may I put forward a few ideas.

    Firstly that I suspect not too many on TED are intolerant of freedom of religion (within limits). It is the religious fundamentalists that seem to be most intolerant in terms of violence.

    Secondly, we should not tolerate violence in any god or religions name. Just because people believe they have the absolute truth from god, we should not tolerate forcing religion (or atheism) on others. We should not tolerate one group of believers forcing their religious taboos on another group, especially violently such as beheading those who insult the religious icons.

    Thirdly I suggest we can respect peoples right to hold religious beliefs but I don't think that necessarily includes a ban on criticising beliefs. For example when a religion instructs treating women unequally or committing genital mutilation, or even to point out how subjective their beliefs are.

    In fact I suggest if religious beliefs in say a virgin birth were increasingly treated like claims Elvis is still alive or I got abducted by Aliens then there might be less space for radical religion to grow and be acceptable.

    I suggest religion by its very nature of being faith based and assuming absolute truth in many cases has some inherent issues. Religious belief reinforces tribalism and claims god is on my side. If people belief god is telling them to hurt others that is just as valid and verifiable as those that believe god is telling them to be peaceful, because there is know way of knowing if there are gods and what they want us to know other than what other people have made up, or how we interpret our personal religious experience which can be used to justify anything.

    So I support freedom of religion, within limits of not hurting people, but also not being immune from critique. Perhaps we should respect people too much to treat religious ideas with respect they do not deserve.

    Just some thoughts
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      Sep 17 2012: Hi Obey,
      I thank you for your thoughts and I agree.
      I believe that people who interpret their religion in the true meaning use it as a spiritual guide or a guide to living.
      The problem arises when the above is not true.
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        Sep 17 2012: Hi Madhavi,

        Not trying to be combative, but how do you know they are interpreting the truth about their religion. Why are violence and exclusive religious interpretations incorrect?
        Isn't religious belief completely subjective at its core. Can't we make up a religion to be anything we want. Don't some religious texts exhibit violence or a violent, sexist angry creator, not just a loving one?

        I think the problem is religion can be anything, but it is believed as absolute truth without evidence.
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          Sep 18 2012: Obey,when people spreads hatred, violence, injustice in the name of religion,I believe that they are misinterpreting.
          Agreed Obey. Religion is subjective...you put it very well.
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          Sep 19 2012: Hey buddy. It looks like you are banging on her head a bit. Your original post was so good, I couldn't find anything to add so I just gave it a thumbs up. You pretty well summed up all my feelings. But, you are going on and on badgering the lady.

          Just my opinion, which has put my foot in my mouth more often than not.
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        Sep 19 2012: Hi again.

        How do you interpret:

        - Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:15 NAB)

        - "Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, "Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all – old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin your task right here at the Temple." So they began by killing the seventy leaders. "Defile the Temple!" the LORD commanded. "Fill its courtyards with the bodies of those you kill! Go!" So they went throughout the city and did as they were told." (Ezekiel 9:5-7 NLT)

        - This is what the Lord of hosts has to say: 'I will punish what Amalek did to Israel when he barred his way as he was coming up from Egypt. Go, now, attack Amalek, and deal with him and all that he has under the ban. Do not spare him, but kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and asses.' (1 Samuel 15:2-3 NAB)

        - My angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites; and I will wipe them out. (Exodus 23:23 NAB)

        - A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death. (Leviticus 20:27 NAB)

        - But if this charge is true and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her fathers house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father's house. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NAB)

        - If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods......do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Deuteronomy 13:7-12

        - Just to be fair the Qurán also has over 100 verses to war with nonbeliever
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          Sep 19 2012: Obey, these scriptures were written centuries ago when the way of life was different than ours. Do you think we are taking it out of context?
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          Sep 19 2012: Madhavi,
          You said in your previous comment...
          "Obey,when people spreads hatred, violence, injustice in the name of religion,I believe that they are misinterpreting".

          So, who is misrepresenting or taking it out of context? Is it Obey? Or those who actually follow the teachings?
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          Sep 19 2012: I don't think Hindu writings have Deuteronomy in books. I know the Koran doesn't. The koran is just one big book.
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        Sep 20 2012: Hi Madhavi,

        So we perhaps agree that it is not so much misinterpreting, it is picking and choosing.

        This is also highlighting that the cultural context of scripture is important. So when the bible endorses slavery and orders murder it reflects human development not anything divine or transcendent in a secular sense.

        The old testament is a foundation document for several billion believers today. It is old, but so is the golden rule 25 centuries ago with Confucius. I guess Hinduism may have roots even older. So it is not age that makes religious beliefs acceptable or not.

        What is it that makes religious beliefs positive or negative?

        What are your criteria? Where you get them from? How do you determine what religious beliefs and religiously inspired actions are worthy of toleration or even support and what are not.

        Isn't it odd that the best way to judge or sort through religious belief may be from secular ethical perspective about what improves human well being and reduces suffering.

        I support religious freedom but suggest religious belief is a two edge sword. Faith and dogma can be beneficial or harmful.

        I think more religious people need to be clearer about what forms of religion are tolerable and what are not and why.

        I got caught up in a protest in Sydney on Saturday with people carrying signs saying behead those who Insult the prophet of Islam. This is an aspect of religion, based in a belief in god given absolute truth that defies critique and reason.

        Religion is a very poor tool for deciding what is good and ethical and how to live if it is not informed with positive values independent of religious faith, based on logic and reason and humanity not seemingly invented gods and dubious scriptures.

        What makes religion tolerable and beneficial? What makes it harmful and negative?
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          Sep 20 2012: Obey, I do share some of your thoughts.
          People tend to readily accept the dogma of their religion. But the real essence of the religion/spirituality remains elusive to many.
          What makes religion tolerable and beneficial?
          Religion seems to help the vast majority of the people to remain moral, to go through the trials and tribulations in life. That is the only path they know or seek. Especially for the poor and uneducated who cannot make informed decisions, it is the easiest to understand.
          Most people find spirituality in religion and use it as a guide for living.
          What makes it harmful and negative?
          Anything that is done in the name of religion that perpetrates hatred,violence,harm,injustice.
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        Sep 20 2012: So if you agree with the scriptures or dogma that is okay?
        What is your basis for good or bad when it comes to assessing religious belief?
        What type of religion should we endorse and what should we condemn and resist?

        I suggest our common humanity is a better foundation for peace, love and understanding than religion.
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          Sep 20 2012: "So if you agree with the scriptures or dogma that is okay? "
          It is not okay to blindly agree with the scriptures or dogma. But I do not make the decisions for everyone.
          "What is your basis for good or bad when it comes to assessing religious belief?"
          Take the good..leave the bad.
          "What type of religion should we endorse and what should we condemn and resist?"
          Endorse none .Condemn none. Seek the path that works for you.
          "I suggest our common humanity is a better foundation for peace, love and understanding than religion."
          True. But it is not easy for everyone to comprehend.
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        Sep 21 2012: I'll have to reflect on your comment about religion helping the poor and ignorant.

        I was lucky to be born reasonably well off and had a great education and am exposed to many ideas etc. So it is a bit hard to put myself in those shoes.

        I do wonder if decent education is the key. I suggest ethical frameworks don't need a religion to carry them. If ignorance is what makes religion useful, lets work on the ignorance.

        I also suggest there is good and bad tied up with cultural religious superstition, like the Caste System perhaps. Like the rich and powerful deserve what they have because they lived a good past life.

        What is so hard to comprehend about basic human rights and responsibilities, about what helps a society function and increases happiness. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness,
        freedom of and from religion,
        Equality
        Treating others as you would like to be treated etc

        I think 9 year olds can understand basic ethical concepts - like empathy.

        Basing morality and a world view on religious falsehoods seems counter productive to me. Seems sad if a key rationale for religion is not that it is true, but that is useful, useful for the ignorant, or to control them.

        No issue if we disagree.

        One the second comment - what is good, what is bad. How do you define these. Trouble is the good and the bad get rolled up in superstition and people give a special sanctity to religious beliefs, they are off limits for being challenged. Taboo.

        Also I disagree in regards not opposing harmful ideologies even if they are superstitious, religious etc.

        While I don't condemn less harmful religious beliefs, while I respect peoples rights to believe in superstition and would not try to force someone to give up their believes I'm all for the contest of ideas, all for more people realising their particular faith based beliefs are no more likely to be correct than someone else's.
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          Sep 21 2012: Great insights and ideas, Obey!
          Education does have a huge impact ..at least most of the time:-)

          "I think 9 year olds can understand basic ethical concepts - like empathy."
          If everyone understood basic ethical concepts, why do we have
          injustice,hatred and bloodshed in this world?

          "Basing morality and a world view on religious falsehoods seems counter productive to me"
          Counter productive if used for the wrong reason.

          "what is good, what is bad. How do you define these"
          Deciphering the right from the wrong (i.e. basic ethical concepts as you stated).
          Do people not know the right from the wrong or they choose not to.

          "Also I disagree in regards not opposing harmful ideologies even if they are superstitious, religious etc. "
          What do we gain by opposing them?..more resistance, hatred...
          Working on ignorance, as you stated, is a good start.
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        Sep 23 2012: Hi again.

        A lot of your arguments come back to religion being useful if used in a certain way, or not if misused. It is a utilitarian argument. I still think the starting point should be truth, not superstition or tradition.

        Also we seem to have your own internal values to judge whether religious dogma, scriptures, actions are good or evil. Just like me. So many Christians, Muslims and Jews don't think we should kill homosexuals. Unfortunately I hear gay men are killed in Iran etc and condemned by others based on religiously inspired values.

        While you and I, and children can empathise, that does not mean we do not act selfishly, greedily, or in fear. Understanding does not lead to perfect living. But having values based on human rights, freedoms, and responsibilities, and improving the human condition, reducing suffering is better than any religious dogma that has a mix of good and bad.

        I guess religion can be a force for good or bad, it can console those with crappy lives or when people die. Does not make it true. Again, I think starting with our best understanding of reality can lead to better outcomes.

        One of my problems, other than believing in superstition and dogma, is that these beliefs can be held so tightly, that when negative, people will not budge. They have been indoctrinated that their belief is absolute truth from god, so if they believe those who insult the prophet should be beheaded you can not reason with them.

        Maybe believers are happy in their delusions. I don't mind that as long as they don't force their dogma and taboos on me. As long as they have secular arguments for positions, not my god says so.

        Again just because religions may be useful, does not make any of them true. And I prefer truth as best we know it as the starting for deciding how we should live and get along. All the religious beliefs can not all be true.

        I agree we need to pick our battles and tactics and not offend without thought. And it may be a long slow journey.
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          Sep 25 2012: Hi Obey, good points!
          "I still think the starting point should be truth, not superstition or tradition."
          Of course. Superstitions and traditions are man-made, they are not the truth.
          "your own internal values to judge whether religious dogma, scriptures, actions are good or evil."
          We need to ...we do it when we judge or decide other things in life.

          Religions consist of other things besides superstitions and traditions. They may be a medium for a person in the quest for truth.
          It is not necessary to follow a religion to seek the truth:)
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    Oct 11 2012: "We can prevent the spread of hatred one person at a time, without finger pointing or denigrating any religion/religious views."

    It takes a lot of effort to change people who've already made up their minds about something. However, it is easier to teach religious tolerance on people with blank slates (children) who have not decided what they believe in due to lack of knowledge on subject/experience.

    And it is the children today who are going rule the planet 30 years from now, not the people of today who don't practice religious tolerance.

    Doing the math, one person at a time mentality will not be very effective on trying to re-educate the people of today, it can take far too much time and energy while output population grows at faster pace. But one person at a time mentality on the people of tomorrow is exponentially effective.
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      Oct 11 2012: I LOVE that idea James...one person at a time....one step at a time. Every journey begins with a single step. I believe that if enough people in our world discover the joy in accepting, appreciating and respecting each other, we are on our way to peace throughout our world:>)

      We must also make it clear that abuse and violation of human rights WILL NOT be accepted in our global community!

      In another comment on this thread, Chen also mentions taking that first step. I'm very impressed with all you young people, and honored to share the earth with you:>)
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        Oct 12 2012: Colleen and Jame zhang

        glad to see you

        i think Jame made a good point .recently i am thinking about the question ,why students have a much higher level than that who may not going to school .at last i get the conclusion that students seldom being impacked by the adults ,most of the time thay spent with their friends with the same age .and also they are influenced by books which have a better showing of our society so they may be much more friendly and enthusiastic

        connected to this case .it also adopt .so educition is very important in our development of scioety .
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          Oct 14 2012: I agree that education is very important to our society Chen, and I don't think it always has to be education from books, although that is very important as well. I believe we can educate ourselves and each other in every moment of our lives. "BE" what we want to "SEE" in our world.
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      Oct 14 2012: Hi James,
      I agree that it is easier to change the ideas in children /instill new ideas and thought processes as they are nascent.
      As far as 'one person at a time' goes...I do believe in six degrees of separation :-).
      There is great potential in that one person, who might influence others. History has many such examples.
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    Oct 11 2012: Every religious person has the right to speak in support of his or her religion. The issue is: What are we saying? Are we using threats against those who do not support our view? Are we insulting and degrading other religions or other views?
    We should accept the fact that not everyone will accept our view on religion and God. We should also be sensitive to the feelings of other people. We have freedom of speech; but we should use discretion in the exercise of our freedom.
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      Oct 12 2012: you make a good point Feyisayo .
      everyone has his own style .what we need is tolerance and have a ,various of views and culture .i am happy because we are different .and i am happy because we have many different style and buildings
      suppose we are all doing the same things and have the same color and speek the same languages.isn't it boring and do you like a scoiety like that.differ makes me seeking .

      streach your arm to enbrace difference.
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        Oct 14 2012: I also am happy because we are different Chen. I think it is important to recognize that we are the same in many respects...we all have many of the same life experiences and feel the same emotions. Most of us want to love and be loved....appreciated, respected and accepted. The differences are gifts we can share with each other.

        Let's all stretch our arms, hearts and minds to embrace difference. We also need to continue to be clear that abuse and violation of human rights is not acceptable. We can accept people and their different beliefs AND NOT accept abuse and violation of human rights.
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    Sep 25 2012: Since I know that people like you, me, and Don exist...hope is a natural bi-product.

    Madhavi just know that this world has a massive amount of people with respect for you and all life.

    We are just beginning to congregate :)
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    Sep 15 2012: Madhavi,
    You pointed out very insightfully in your introduction that "it is 2012 and still the majority of the world wide unrest is religion bases, intra-religious and inter-religious intolerance".

    Those of us who do not practice or believe in a religion are supposed to tolerate the religious unrest which is religion based? Why? Why can't religions tolerate each other? Why can't those who choose to practice certain religions learn to get along with those who practice different religions?

    I have lots of friends and relatives who practice many different religious and philosophical beliefs. We care about each other, respect and love each other, and whatever religion they practice does not matter AS LONG AS IT DOES NOT ADVERSLY IMPACT OTHER PEOPLE. It sounds like you have the same situation in your world...getting along with a diverse group of people.

    The intolerance you speak of is the intolerance one religion has for another religion. That is surprising considering most religions teach love of one another.....oneness....etc. Do you think it would be helpful if more religious people walked their talk? Practiced what they preach?
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      Sep 16 2012: Colleen,
      It is true that all religions teach the same thing for example loving one another. So the fault is not with the religion itself. If people understand this simple concept, there would be more tolerance.
      The cause for intolerance is complicated ;differs in educated and uneducated people.
      -lack of understanding or misunderstanding the religious principles
      -when the religious practice adversely impacts others as you had pointed out
      -Influences (Family, friends etc)
      -Inadequate exposure to different cultures and religions
      -Fundamentalists with personal /political agenda
      I agree, the world would be a peaceful place if more religious people practiced what they preach.
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        Sep 19 2012: Is it possible the world would be a more peaceful place without religion? If we did away with religion, we would only have ourselves to compare to instead of comparing ourselves to a God, or an unknown spiritual mandate like Scientology for instance.
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        Sep 19 2012: Madhavi and John,
        I think it is unrealistic to even contemplate a world without religion, because there are so many people who would not give up their religions, and there is no need to do so. If a person is practicing a religion that does not adversly impact others, they have a right to do so.

        That being said, however, many actions, carried out under the guise of religion, ARE IN FACT, causing other people harm. I do not feel that as a global community, we need to tolerate abuse and violation of human rights. I think we have tolerated such actions way too long!

        For example:
        Sexual molestation of so many children by priests for many, many years, was covered up and tolerated by the leaders of the church who sanctioned the abuse over and over again with thousands of children for many years.

        For example:
        The schools for child suicide bombers, which apparently exist throughout Muslim countries. Why are we tolerating these schools in which children are taught to kill themselves for their god and their religion? They are also killing many innocent people in the process. Why should we tolerate this?

        http://www.ted.com/talks/sharmeen_obaid_chinoy_inside_a_school_for_suicide_bombers.html
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          Sep 20 2012: Colleen,
          We do not need to tolerate abuse and violation of human rights.
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          Sep 21 2012: Don, I think Colleen states it pretty much as it is. I think, in part, her answer would be similar to mine. I would add that the Indians in Canada had a very nice world until the Canadians came and upset their happy little world.

          I know it's hard for you to wonder at all the confusion. The only cure for that is retreat into the world that gives you comfort and pleasure feel at home.

          In this environment, on the internet, you need patience and tolerance for the ideas of others. It will never change. It's just how the game is played.

          You have a sincere reverence for words. I see that in all your posts. But, words are like boats we use to cross a river. Once we get across the river we don't need the boat anymore, but it's hard to cross the river by any other means.

          My point is. Words just carry a message. It's the message that has impact, more impact than the words. People get confused with the difference and attach more meaning to the words than was intended. It's much easier to exchange ideas in real time, face to face. People are taken more serious in that venue.

          In cyber space. The smarter you are the more elaborate lie you can create. Trolls exist for their own pleasure. We are starting to call them Cyber bullies. These are people with a gift for Gab that seek entertain themselves for their own pleasure.

          It's hard to distinguish them from others but we, on the outside, who investigate these people, see trolls as dangerous to children, other employees and perhaps society as a whole. There have been incidents where the mindset created in some people on the internet has been played out in reality, resulting in harm to others.

          We sincerely believe they need counseling. We track them down and check them out.

          There is no privacy on the Internet. You leave a trail that leads right to your door every time you get online.

          Do not let these people affect your feelings. You are a good person Don. See you around.
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          Sep 23 2012: I agree Colleen.

          I support freedom of and from religion within limits of other human rights, like not harming others.

          In fact a world where we try force people to believe one dogma, whether religious or atheist is a horrible thought.

          No issue debating and challenging religion peacefully, or with force in defence of modern secular liberal democracy. I would fight to prevent a theocracy or forced atheism.

          Also no issue working to support human rights.

          It is strange how religion makes it taboo to question things that are questionable. Religious belief to many sits in the highest most priviledged position, but religious ideas, behaviours, actions by those in religious authority should not go unchallenged.

          Like the Roman Pope saying using condoms to prevent HIV is a sin. It is almost murderous. Almost a moral crime.

          Glad we agree not to tolerate abuses even those under the cover of Religion.
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        Sep 20 2012: I agree Madhavi,
        I believe you and I are on the same wave length.....seeking peace and harmony?

        Do we need to have more religious tolerance? Or do some people who misuse their religion, need to have tolerance, and maybe respect for other people who do not embrace THEIR beliefs?

        I do not simply "tolerate" religions and religious people. I respect and honor them WHEN/IF they do not abuse and violate the rights of others.

        So, where do we start with peace and harmony in our world? Do we start from OUTSIDE religions? Having more tolerance for even those practices which have abused people? Or do we start encouraging tolerance and respect from WITHIN religions? I believe change has to start from within...what do you think?
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          Sep 21 2012: Sure Colleen. You are absolutely right in stating that change has to start from within.
          Tolerance needs to be encouraged from within religions. That would change the way people see other religions.
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        Sep 21 2012: Madhavi,
        I honestly believe that if we saw an attempt by religions to change from within, there may be more tolerance.

        If religions are not willing to change from within, perhaps they need a little push from outside?
        I'm thinking of the sexual abuse by priests for example. The church WAS NOT dealing with this situation from within, and the legal system FINALLY started taking over, and prosecuting those priests who sexually assaulted children.

        One of my first questions, after watching the video "inside a school for suicide bombers" was...
        why don't the political and/or religious leaders close down those schools? If religious leaders are sincere about being peaceful, it seems like they would encourage closing those schools, which are operating under the guise of religion? Why don't the leaders of the countries where these schools exist, send out messages to all the villages warning people about this atrocity?

        If we are continually seeing bombings, and schools for children who are taught to be suicide bombers, how can we trust that religion, and what is to encourage tolerance? You know that there is a theory that the people who practice this religion want to take over the world? That belief is often what fuels the fire of discontent. In reality, it appears to be what they are trying to do. How do we change that? Are there enough people like you who truly want peace, to counter the abuse of human rights?
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          Sep 25 2012: Good questions Colleen!
          "why don't the political and/or religious leaders close down those schools?"Why don't the leaders of the countries where these schools exist, send out messages to all the villages warning people about this atrocity?"
          Most of these schools may be operated by religious fundamentalists.
          My assumption is that they are concerned that it may backfire( eg terrorist attacks in their own country)
          "If we are continually seeing bombings, and schools for children who are taught to be suicide bombers, how can we trust that religion, and what is to encourage tolerance? "
          The religious fundamentalists exploit the poor or weak minded people to further their own agenda. This is not reflective of all the followers of the religion. The majority are peace loving people just like us.
          " How do we change that?"
          As you mentioned earlier, encouraging tolerance within the religions.
          Increasing awareness and education, so that people can make informed decisions.
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        Oct 2 2012: Hello again Madhavi,
        There is no question in my mind that those schools are operated by religious fundamentalists, and I also agree with you that there probably is fear that an effort to close the schools may backfire with more terrorist attacks.

        That is the fear that allows oppressors to keep people oppressed....is it not? People are afraid to take action, so the oppressors continue doing what they are doing. It is clear that religious fundamentalists exploit the poor and the weak to further their own agenda.

        I agree that many people may be quietly, peacefully practicing a religion, while the fundamentalists/extremists are busy killing innocent people.

        Do you think it is possible for those quiet peace loving people to start speaking up about this issue? I understand there is fear with them as well, but how is the situation ever going to change, if people within the religions are not willing to speak up? It does not appear that the terroists are willing to tolerate others. It appears that they want to continue to oppress people in the name of religion. I am not refering to only muslins here, because there are christians also killing in the name of religion.

        Your idea topic, Madhavi, is...."Please promote religious tolerance on a personal level".
        I think many people support religious tolerance on personal levels, and I continue to suggest that change has to come from WITHIN religions and practices that DO NOT respect others, increasing awareness and education from WITHIN religions. Most people in our world are afraid of terroists, which is exactly what they want. The global community, INCLUDING those who peacefully practice religions, need to speak up, and take action from WITHIN the group which oppresses.

        Although I think I know what your intent is with this discussion, it feels like your idea suggests that on a personal level, we need to have MORE tolerance for the behaviors and practices which oppress.
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          Oct 7 2012: Hello Colleen,
          People do not speak up or resist, out of fear ,for the safety of themselves and their families..which is understandable ;it is not an easy thing to do.
          Yes, terrorism thrives on fear, hatred, violence.
          Hatred begets hatred, violence begets violence. Fear begets fear. It is a vicious circle.
          Newtons' third law of motion..'Every action has an equal and opposite reaction'.
          As far as human nature goes :-) . If we react in the same way as they do, how can we expect a different outcome?
          I feel that they are acting out of fear also..in the form of violence and hatred.
          If we change the way we react to the oppressors, with something other than violence or hatred or fear ..for eg. if the community or the political leaders or the diplomats can decipher a win-win situation by channelizing the negative energy in these terrorists to something positive...it may work.
          I thank you for the suggestion of changing 'religious tolerance' to 'tolerance'.
          My understanding is that people attribute intolerance of religious fundamentalism to the religion ..not to the individual acts of a person/group. So,I used the term interchangeably:-)
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        Oct 11 2012: Hi Madhavi,
        I understand the fear of speaking up, and I agree...it is not an easy thing to do. Which is easier? To continue to be oppressed because of fear? Or fear caused by trying to be free of harm?

        I have not been involved with fear because of religious suppression, and I have faced fear because of speaking up about a toxic business. My life was threatened, and I questioned my actions over and over again....if I keep quiet, my well being and life will be safe....maybe....or maybe not. The toxic business in our community threatened the health and lives of people for many years. So, my question to myself...was it better to keep quiet and let the business continue to threaten lives? Or was it better to speak up, get the business removed and have a more healthy community? Even though my life was threatened, I decided that I could not live with myself if I did not speak up.

        Many situations in our lives thrive on fear, and I agree...fear begets fear...a vicious circle. We need to break the cycle....where does the process start? I think/feel it has begun in our world, with people who are willing to speak up about the challenge.

        I totally agree with you....it is not about acting/reacting in the same way. I suggest that we, as a global community continue expressing the idea that abuse and violation of human rights IS NOT ACCEPTABLE!

        I think we need to move beyond "tolerance" (I have never liked that word in relationship to people), and begin to respect and accept each other....starting from WITHIN religious groups who want to dominate, oppress, control, abuse and violate the rights of others.
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          Oct 11 2012: i think you done a great job .it always need huge courage to be the first. we people have a habbit to go after ,others do ,and then we do .maybe we consider too much about the consequence ,just as your case .what if you hadnt prevented succeefully .maybe you will be persecuted . so you makes me inspired .thank you
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          Oct 14 2012: Hi Colleen,
          Thanks for sharing your experience and inspiring us.
          I admire your moral courage..it is a rarity in our society. It would make a big difference if people speak up against any wrong doing.
          I do like your choice of words 'respect' and 'acceptance'. I believe it starts with tolerance and ends with acceptance:-)
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        Oct 11 2012: Thank you dear Chen:>)
        As a young person in our world (our future) YOU inspire ME!

        There IS fear in our world, and it is fear that allows some people to oppress others. It is good to think about the consequences of our choices, and it is also good to think about the consequences when we DO NOT express our concern. The more people who speak up about abuse and violation of human rights, the more it becomes a powerful force in our global community.

        Yes, there is always the chance that we may be persecuted when we speak up. People who are oppressed are persecuted, are they not? Which is a more useful choice?
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          Oct 11 2012: yeah you make a good choice and many people do not scare to say when they indeed know that there is a problem .just like a puiple in class do not scare to stand up and reply teachers'question . and you make a model when we step out the first step .it is much easier for us to go on .your choic is great .you are doing the right thing.
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        Oct 14 2012: Thanks again Chen,
        If we can move past our own fear, it is less likely that others can control and dominate in an abusive, violent way. In another comment Chen, you mentioned how you stood up to a bully who was harrassing you, and he stopped bullying you? You made a model when you took that step. Those who abuse and violate the rights of others are bullies, who need to learn that bullying is NOT a good way to live a life.
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        Oct 14 2012: Dear Madhavi,
        This is a response to your last comment...I could not get it closer:

        You write...
        "Hi Colleen,
        Thanks for sharing your experience and inspiring us.
        I admire your moral courage..it is a rarity in our society. It would make a big difference if people speak up against any wrong doing.
        I do like your choice of words 'respect' and 'acceptance'. I believe it starts with tolerance and ends with acceptance:-)"

        It would make a HUGE difference if more people spoke up about wrong doing....it could change our world! I like to strive for love, which includes acceptance and respect, and I will continue to insist that those qualities need to come from people WITHIN the religious organizations who are causing harm, disrespect, abuse and violation of the human rights of other people.
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    Gail .

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    Sep 15 2012: Last year I moved to a part of the USA that is mostly conservative, fundamentalist christian. These people seriously believe that free-thinkers worship the devil, and that they are a threat to their survival and the survival of the USA.

    they do not take to the streets with gasoline and torches, but they do as much damage using their fully lawful methods. If the USA had the 80% unemployment rates that exist in majority population segments of those countries now embattled, we would have the same problems.

    It's not tolerance that we need. I don't want to be tolerated. I want to be respected - no matter my views. In the USA, non-christians are not respected and are an oppressed majority. I sometimes get the feeling that the USA is a powder keg waiting to be ignited.

    I would like to see and end to all religions that tell their members that someone else must tell them what to think and how to act. These religions are the most troublesome.
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      Sep 15 2012: I'm just curious Ted... Do you happen to be here on a visa serving an "underserved area"?

      Because... Seriously... You need to move to one of these places we have called cities... They're very nice, your entire perception of America will change.

      For those of you who don't know, rural America, desperately needs skilled workers, so if you want to move to the United States, and become a citizen as quickly as possible, you can offer to work in an "underserved area", and your process will speed up considerably. This story makes me think Ted lover got stuck somewhere no one wants to be. If that's the case, you can move in a couple years, and just remember, the rural areas of most countrys are full of people who aren't very multicultural...
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      Sep 16 2012: I generally sympathise. The most difficult debate over policy or law is one involving religious belief.

      If a book says homosexuality is evil, if the pope says condoms are sinful, then reason will not prevail.

      One question. You would like to see an end to certain forms of religion - would you do that by force?

      For me, I support freedom of religion within limits - such as not harming or threatening others.

      Similarly I support freedom of speech within limits such as not threatening to kill others, liable, slander etc.

      I suggest it should be illegal to state those who insult the prophet should be beheaded as per the poster I saw at a violent Muslim protest in central Sydney yesterday. These threats should not be tolerated same as Christians threatening to blow up abortion clinics.

      I personally believe it should a crime
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        Gail .

        • +2
        Sep 16 2012: I wouldn't use force to end the cruel religions. I would use education and governments would not be able to pass laws that support one religion over another in any instance. There is plenty of evidence disproving the Bible as truth, and "God" as legitimate, but it is not taught in schools.

        I can use math & basic physics of raindrops to prove that Noah's flood didn't happen as described.
        I can use quantum physics to show that "God" of the Bible doesn't exist
        I can use geology & geometry to show that the creation didn't happen as described in Genesis
        I can use archeology, geography, historical records, and math to show that the Biblical account of Exodus never happened.

        If I were in a mandatory comparative religion class:
        I can use pre KJV texts to show that Jesus didn't die on the cross & history as well as geography to show the errors in the christmas story.
        I can use the bible to show how many times it contradicts itself.
        I can use the teachings of Paul & Jesus to prove that Paul is lying about Jesus' teachings.

        These things are part of an education that includes critical thinking skills.

        But using violence to end religions hasn't worked. My problem with Marx (Communist Manifesto) is not with seeing a better future for mankind without religions. It's with using military force to erase religions. Once the leaders had their hands on such power, they would not relinquish it.

        What is the difference between threatening those who treat the prophet sarcastically and threatening those who perform fully legal abortions. Too many doctors, patients, and potential humans die in these explosions. If there is to be a standard, it should be a universal one.
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          Sep 23 2012: I agree the ideal is to use education etc

          But there is a point where aspects of religion becomes criminal.

          The actions such as genital mutilation, killing in gods name etc are easy to criminalise.

          I agree it is problematic to criminalise the beliefs that support these activities.

          At the least making the act illegal indicates our society does not endorse these medieval beliefs.
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          Sep 23 2012: TED Lover and Obey,
          I agree that education is helpful, and as Obey says in another comment...
          "One of my problems....is that these beliefs can be held so tightly, that negative, people will not budge. They have been indoctrinated that their belief is absolute truth from god... you can not reason with them".

          So, any kind of education is not getting to the people who may benefit from education, simply because they will not listen, nor will they give up the control the religion has on them, and the control they are trying to impose on others.

          In another comment Obey, you write...
          "It is strange how religion makes it taboo to question things that are questionable".

          Maybe it is strange, and maybe not! That is the control factor religions have over people. While living in the catholic tradition as a child, we were never supposed to question.....simply believe.....have faith. Even as a child, I asked...if these are good, honest, valuable teachings, why am I discouraged....even forbidden to explore them?

          Why was I taught to love my neighbor ONLY if s/he was catholic? We were allowed to feel sorry for those who did not embrace that tradition.....we were allowed to have pity for them because they were all going to hell, but we were not allowed to respect, and truly love our neighbor because s/he was so different. This one simple teaching contradicts a LOT of other teachings as presented in the bible. How can people continue to believe that?

          It goes back to what you say Obey...
          Beliefs can be held so tightly, that some people will not budge. They have been indoctrinated that their belief is absolute truth from god... you can not reason with them. They will violate the rights of others for their religion and their god. It is this kind of abusive control I do not accept.
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      Sep 23 2012: The US is based on some very enlightened values, some enshrined in the constitution that helps moderate religious extremism. Even being wealthy and educated reduces religious extremism if you compare state by state I guess.

      Also, the Western world has suffered centuries of religious warfare, between Catholic and Protestant. It only gave equal rights to some races in the last 50 years. Lynchings and anti-Semitism etc were more acceptable socially in living memory of some. We are not that far ahead in historical terms.

      Europe was killing itself 70 years ago in WW2, and committing genocide on an industrial scale. We are literally just decades ahead of Africa and the middle East in some regards but with centuries of developing enlightenment values and liberal democratic government and growing secularism.

      But the contrast is stark.
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    Oct 11 2012: OK.
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      Sep 25 2012: Hello Don Wesley..welcome!
      I appreciate your support and encouragement.
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    Sep 16 2012: Hi Madhavi,

    Hinduism is a great religion and I've read a lot of material about it. I have a good friend, who also lives in TN who is a Buddhist. She recommended the materials to me.

    I don't know if we can prevent the spread of hatred one person at a time. We all have our separate lives to live and many people are busy with this or that thing. I've lived in the same neighborhood for 6 years now and could only tell you a handful of the names of my neighbors. The most notable thing about my neighborhood is that people wave at one another when entering and leaving the neighborhood, and everyone smiles at each other but it ends there. Most people just tend to their own lives. My Chinese neighbors did bring me and my wife some Chinese cucumbers he grows in his yard when we were down with the cold for a couple of weeks. Just came by, bowed, handed them to me and left.

    I juiced them in with some apples and carrots and had immediate results the next day.

    We have many religious folk in my neighborhood but no one talks much about religion. It's a private affair that most folk want to embrace themselves, with their fellows of a like mind.

    I'm Agnostic and still keep the door open but tend to be mostly meditative in my spiritual setting. I can say this about religious tolerance. Religion has been around for a long time and doesn't appear to had any real affect towards a peaceful end on the worlds population. I see a trend towards more tolerance but only because of the expansion of the 3rd world countries along the globalization line of thought.

    I believe that some tolerance is forming in the Middle East where many changes are taking place.
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      Sep 16 2012: I guess one thing that bothers me about Hinduism is the caste system. I could have it wrong but I have the impression some Hindu beliefs reinforce the caste system.
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      Sep 17 2012: Hi John,
      I agree that there is an increasing trend toward tolerance in the developing countries but there is plenty of room to grow.
      (I did not do any project on bacterial infections :-)
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        Sep 17 2012: Good answer, there appears to be much room for the world to grow into as well.

        I have faith in the Third world. I have a discussion about it going on if you would care to offer your ideas.
        It's about the rising clamor for Democracy and individual rights in Third world countries and how a maturing democratic social structure in those countries might severely affect the Western world.
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        Sep 23 2012: I agree, plenty of room for improvement everywhere respecting so called human rights, fighting tribalism, racism, ignorance, greed, recency (short term thinking) etc - all the aspects of our animal nature that hold us back.
  • Sep 16 2012: Madhavi, Perhaps you can suggest specific behavior or words that you use that promote religious tolerance. In some religious books, intolerance is instructed as a means to demonstrate that this religion is the "one true religion" and "other" religions are a threat to this concept. Even violence is recommended in the religious books for those who do not convert to the religion. Intolerance is taught within the religion itself. I wonder how one can change that.
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      Sep 17 2012: Rhona,
      I was fortunate to have been exposed to many cultures and religions by knowing people from different backgrounds. Having an open mind really helps in understanding and accepting differences.
      My understanding is that, none of the religions preach hatred, harm,intolerance,violence.
      It is the misinterpretation of what is written/preached that is causing all the problems.
      • Sep 17 2012: Madhavi, I disagree with you. "Jihad," for example.
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          Sep 18 2012: Rhona,
          Is the meaning of 'Jihad' misconstrued as 'Holy war' by religious fundamentalists?
          I understand that it is the meaning we are familiar with.
          I encourage you to delve into the real meaning. It also means 'Inner conflict' within a person.
      • Sep 18 2012: Madhavi, Perhaps you should read portions or all of the Koran. After you do, perhaps you can explain the sections on Jihad, women, cutting off heads, hands, feet, "al-taqiyya" (lie to non-Islamic people) and other parts of the Koran that seem to be inconsistent with your point of view.
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          Sep 19 2012: Rhona, I have the same reply to yours and Obey's questions.
          Koran was written when the way of living was different than that of ours.
          Are we taking it out of context?
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          Sep 19 2012: Could it be that some people do not realize that living was different when the Koran was written, than it is today? Could some people be still literally following the teachings even though the way we live today has changed?
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        Sep 19 2012: I agree with Rhona Pavis. This Jihad thing and burning a countries flag. It doesn't have the ring of religious tolerance.

        "Koran was written when the way of living was different than that of ours.
        Are we taking it out of context?" ~Madhavi Gavini

        Perhaps it needs some upgrading to our modern times where such ancient ways are no longer valid?
      • Sep 23 2012: Who cares when it was written? The Hippocratic Oath was wriiten a long time ago too. People have choices. Some people choose positive.
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        Oct 7 2012: Re: My understanding is that, none of the religions preach hatred, harm,intolerance,violence.

        I find that hard to believe unless you are filtering religious beliefs, dogma, scriptures in accordance with perhaps your personal definition of what you belief religion is or should be, not what it is in practice - a mix of good and bad based on subjective unverifiable claims.

        Are you not aware of religions that involved animal or human sacrifice? Have you taken a look at the old testament or Qurán?

        Not every religion is benign as the Jains.
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    Sep 15 2012: I agree completely... but I also agree with Salim, to an extent. It makes me curious, would you be happy if your son or daughter brought home a boy or girl who wasn't Hindu?

    I think that is one of the last predjudices to go, and all of humanity needs to work on erasing it from their vocabulary "Not with my daughter/son"
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      Sep 16 2012: David, I can speak for myself and my husband..we would not place any restriction based on religion:)
      I agree that it is one of the widely prevalent prejudices in most of south east asia and middle east but it is slowly changing..especially in the educated section.
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        Sep 19 2012: Do you believe that these changes are a function of Education? In other words is education causing the change in attitudes of the countries in question and could education be used in those countries to reach a wider audience of citizens, perhaps increasing the rate of change?
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          Oct 7 2012: John, I believe that education plays a major role in changing the way people think..at least most of the time.
          It is easier said than done because of the many hurdles the need to be crossed like poverty, peoples' attitudes, traditions, superstitions etc.