Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Tolerance

I've been sorting through my holiday pictures and wanted to share these with you. They were taken at Bahrain airport just before Christmas and, to me, represent all that is good about this tiny Gulf kingdom.

Political correctness in the UK seems intent on stifling the Christmas spirit. Cards sent in December should now read "Festive Greetings" rather than "Merry Christmas" and people are asked by their local councils to tone down Christmas lights on their houses for fear of offending neighbours of other religions.

Yet here in Bahrain, a Muslim country, it appears the Christmas spirit is alive and well. The lady in the picture below was clapping along to "Jingle Bells" with her toddler and loving it.

And why not? I love learning about other cultures and religions, and so do my kids. It helps promote tolerance and understanding.

Bahrain has residents of many ethnic backgrounds and I have found people here are generally inquisitive about the differences between them rather than wary and mistrusting.

Yes, as residents we are expected to observe certain rules, particularly during Muslim religious festivals, but in return we are allowed freely to celebrate our own festivals, such as Christmas and Easter, whether that be through putting up decorations at school, performing plays at church or organising carol singing or Easter egg hunts.

All of which goes to show it is possible for a country to have a strong religious and cultural identity and yet still be tolerant and accepting of others.

3 comments:

  1. Interesting post. Great topic. The PCness you talk about in Britain is also found in the U.S. It's strange to see how other countries aren't so worried about what everyone thinks all the time. But somehow when the world is focused on you, like it is on the U.S. and Britain, it makes it much harder. The Swiss can go ban minarets and hardly anyone takes notice. But can you imagine if the U.S. did that?

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  2. The whole PC thing has gotten out of hand, I think. Seriously, what's wrong with a bit of Jingle Bells in school at Christmas? How can that possibly offend anyone?

    Your post has really made me think, has made me wonder if we are focussing on things which don't even cause offence in the first place. Maybe tolerance is possible after all.

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  3. Hi Chantal - actually the minaret-banning got headlines over here. About the only time I've seen Switzerland in the paper, and unfortunately not for the right reasons.

    Selma - I agree. This whole PC thing has made people paranoid about offending others, or worse, conditioned others to act offended when they may not have been bothered in the first place.

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