Today is International Day of Tolerance!

What means tolerance for you? Have you encountered intolerance for being who you are? Where does tolerance end? We collected your stories and statements on the special occasion of this day – in 1996 the UN General Assembly  invited UN Member States to observe the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November. Thanks a lot to everyone who contributed!

  Marlies Loy

“Everyone knows more or less the term „tolerance“. But an exact definition is rarely to find in peoples minds, it’s more likely that they would be able to explain its opposite: intolerance.
Spontaneously everyone would somehome know what tolerance means. But specifically this makes it so hard, to find a universally valid answer to the question, what tolerance means. There is hardly another word, where boundaries blur so easily and quickly. If I don’t like something, does it mean automatically, I don’t tolerate it? Or the other way round: I don’t tolerate something and therefore don’t like it?
Maybe tolerance already starts with listening to other people’s opinions. You don’t have to adopt it, but possibly accept and respect it. But tolerance is not only about what is said or thought. Being tolerant means the equality of different attitudes, without limiting fundamental rights. In a world, that seems to live from its diversity and differences, it became unbelievably difficult, to agree with everything and everyone. Of course it cannot be demanded to embrace everything which is new and unknown.. But today it seems, that an aversion towards everything new is quickly emerging. Maybe from anxiety, insecurity oder just due to reluctance to deal with things seriously.
Tolerance, to put it in simple words, just means to take people as they are. Everyone of us longs for a world without personal rejections. To live and to let others live is a step into the right direction and towards the goal. To summarize: tolerance!”


Some people refuse to accept me as „normal“. Even though I have the impression that my flatmates and friends of mine do like me, they tell me that I am not normal. They shake their heads and are smiling in a way that I find humiliating.
I want to be in the way I want to be. I do not want to be put in a box saying: „You are a man. You can not understand this.“ nor I want to suffer comments about my favourite sports volleyball and ballet that these are „gay“ sports.

 Oftentimes, these are people I was aiming to trust. However, with such a feedback of disrespect and lack of understanding, it becomes more difficult to develop trust to somebody else in the future. I feel harmed, excluded and powerless to contest such statement”


“Maybe my story doesn’t seem to be as usual as it might for the topic of intolerance, but it is really important to me. It happened many times in my country that I could not use my native tongue. Once I even could have lost my job, because I didn’t want to talk to my boss in lthe anguage of our neighbor country, despite the fact that he knows and understands our official language. I live in a very beautiful country with a grate history and melodic native language. I want to use and impress myself in the official language, because without it our state will not exist.”


Tolerance to me means a person who respect the freedom of others in his integrity: freedom of thought, movement, safety, living in a place thrive. With regard to freedom of thought is to think about the problems of society, namely: the problems of health, education, agriculture, employment and especially for young people, climate change … Freedom of movement to come and go in the country without any problems on the road with men in uniform. Freedom & Security is a big problem nowadays in some countries in the world and specifically the Central African Republic. Because if everyone’s freedom is to be safe means that the State must ensure safety every day in its daily activities without fear. Also the freedom to express oneselve in public, freedom of work, to live in harmony with the community with others, to act in society, its political and religious opinions. 

Can Deniz Yildiz

Tolerance is a often used word. You switch on TV: Tolerance, you read the newspaper: Tolerance. But actually most of the people don’t know what it means to be tolerant. The meaning of the word „to tolerate“ is to brook something, no matter if you are for or against it. But in our society it means much more. In the following text, I’m gonna explain what tolerance means to me.

Global Crop Diversity Trust

I’ve a handicapped brother and since he has been born, I automaticly become more and more tolerant. In the first time it was a bit hard to handle with a person, who is quite different than the others but fortunately my mum always taught me: Accept everyone, no matter how he looks like, who he loves or where he comes from. But my brother was the first handicapped person I was dealing with and therefore I first had to learn that he needs special medical support and therapies like speech therapy. With his Down Syndrome he’s learning more slowly than others. With time it became more and more normal and today everything’s like everytime. My brother’s my brother and all is the same for me.

At school I was confronted with intolerance. Many of my classmates were bullyied by more popular pupil. For me, bullying is one of the most coward things in the world. I always suporrted the victims of bullying. Many friends of mine turned away in this time. That made me really sad but I never gave up. Unfortunately many of the bullyied people had to change school but fortunately no one was bullyied anymore in my class.

Because of all what happended in my life I became really sensitive in terms of discrimination and intolerance. I try to change people’s opinion about things like same-sex marriage, handicapped people, bullying and much more issues because I think that our society have to become much more open-minded. At my school I’m known as the radical revolutionary, because I advocate things like surrogacy, same-sex marriage, absolute equality (I’m NOT communist!) or alternative energy. For me these issues are self-evident and not radical and revolutionary but it’s seen like this. I discuss really much with classmates and teachers, for example in the subject „Politics“. I make presentations over tolerance to directly speak to the people or I just try to represent Equality, Tolerance and Acceptance. Finally I want to say that it’s not impossible to change something. Everyone can reach his aims, he just have to do something for it. „Make a difference!“ is my motto and everyone who makes a difference has the power to change something.


Human rights!
That is in my point of view one very important Point, when we discuss Tolerance. Because Tolerance ends, where the human rights end.  In my view, everyone can and must tolerate every human, if they don´t violate human rights. First then a border is reached and then somebody must not tolerate another human anymore and he can decide how to handle with the situation to stop breaking human rights. But it must be also mentioned, that a lot of people don´t have the patience to be all the time tolerant about all things. And so don´t provoke them with your opinion, only if there is the danger that they break your human rights and not only because they have other views to some themes. You cannot demand all the time tolerance for you and try to impose your opinion to other people, because Tolerance means also the respect for other opinions.


Tolerance is a challenge. It is a challenge for those people who are not ready to accept the other people the way they are. For those who see only outward side of people and don’t try to go beyond the color, race, nationality and religion. It is ability to respect the people you are surrounded with and live among them peacefully. Tolerance is a challenge that we need to overcome. It shall be a state of mind and not something to achieve.

One Response to “Today is International Day of Tolerance!”

  1. Tolerance is one of the pillars of a sustainable environment, because it makes peace at mind and in a society possible. As a German with a South-African background i know too good why a lack of tolerance is the start of every evil in the world. We are all different and by sharing our ideas we can create a world in which it does not matter whether you are a disabled person, stroke by poverty, unable to speak for yourself because religion and politics chain you down. People can really contribute to the happiness of their surrounding environment, their friends, family and all the others we do not know, if you love all of them for the unique characters they have. To say it with a quote of a very important person to me and all South-Africans in the world; with the words of Nelson Mandela: “Noone is born to hate another human being. Human Beings are taught to hate by their people and if you can learn to hate, you can also learn to love. Love is far more natural to the human heart than hatred.” For me it does not matter where you come from or where you have been so far. We can unite our voices and we have all the means for carrying them throughout the world to oppose a society where through money and origin we are based on different levels. This is not tolerance, but only a way to make the majority of the world suffer for a small group of elites. No matter the religion, belief, ethnical background, political view or gender: So long as we are tolerated, we should tolerate as well. There is only one very narrow exception to tolerance and it is whenever a person or group tries to take away your human rigths and shows ignorance and also intolerance by this behaviour.

    Patrick Haase
    German Green Youth

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