Which would you rather have absolute respect or tolerance? It’s a question that we must ask as a multicultural society living in this 21st century. According to the Cambridge dictionary, tolerance is the willingness to accept behavior and beliefs that are different from your own, even though you might not agree or approve of them. Today, many people practice tolerance around the world, which has made the world a better place as opposed to what people had during the dark ages. However, we all can agree that there is still much room to improve.
The Light of the World Church promotes principles in three different categories: religious, moral and civic. These principles are taught and are encouraged in all members. For example, one moral principle is that “we recognize freedom of thought, and the right of people to choose the religion and path of their choice, without being threatened or harmed in any way.” Another moral principle is that “we reject intolerance and fanaticism, because they undermine human dignity and religious freedom.” For this reason, we are taught to practice absolute respect and not simply tolerance. Tolerance has a limit and can be broken. When tolerance breaks, it turns into intolerance; intolerance is the absence of respect. We have seen it many times throughout history. When intolerance is present, the world has witnessed the most horrific genocides in the history of mankind.
Furthermore, the apostle of Jesus Christ, Naason Joaquin Garcia, expressed during his address to members on March 11, 2018 in the city of Torreon, Coahuila, that we must transition from tolerance to practice absolute respect. The absolute respect is perfect and helps us all to truly live peacefully. No matter how different someone else’s beliefs or ideas are, we must respect them. In addition, he explained the passage of Matthew 22:34-40 when the scribes attempted to test Jesus and asked which was the greatest commandment of the law. In his response, the Lord mentioned two commandments. The apostle Joaquin Garcia signaled how different the world would be today if we simply practiced these two commandments.
Thus, I invite all community members to consider the absolute respect of ideas over tolerance. It is unfortunate that in the 21st century we are still witnessing intolerance in many sectors of our communities. Lately, The Light of the World Church has suffered acts of intolerance by hate crimes committed against properties of the church. During the month of July, two shootings occurred against temples of The Light of the World Church, one in Houston and one in Nevada. In the Houston incident, women and children were inside the temple. I cannot fathom what went through the minds of those innocent children as they lived through this experience, simply for practicing their faith. These acts of intolerance have sharply increased after some media outlets have chosen to publish and broadcast false and misleading information about the church and its members. Some “journalists” have decided to forget about all ethical practices and instead simply look for ratings.
For this reason, I stand to say enough is enough. As a citizen of this great country where our freedom of religion is enshrined in the constitution, I believe that freedom belongs to everyone, even if it is a belief that is different from my own. We all have a fundamental freedom to exercise our faith without experiencing discrimination or prejudice. History has had many episodes of religious intolerance, but that has no room in our society today. The last century demonstrated what happens when a society does not speak up during times of intolerance. Let us not make the same mistake or allow for history to repeat itself.
Ultimately, the decision will be made individually, but we can influence those around us.
As we continue to become a society with many different ideas, beliefs and political ideologies, it is necessary that we begin this transition. It all begins in our household, with our friends and our coworkers. When we hear or see tolerance, not to mention intolerance, we can step in and stand for absolute respect. Will you speak up?
• Joab Cano is a member of The Light of the World Church. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Friday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.