Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Importance of Tolerance

It is universally acknowledged that Canada, in present times, is a melting pot for so many different people coming from various backgrounds and cultures. If I am sure of anything, it is that I will leave Canada knowing this heartening fact: that heterogeneity can work. 
Of course, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is now more than sixty years old and it is deeply engraved in the souls and hearts of all those who live it. Living in the shadow of the conflict might sometimes mislead you into thinking that there's nothing more important going on in the world. But, quite frankly, nothing can be further from the truth. 
Initially, I was surprised, if not appalled, by how little people here in Canada seem to be acquainted with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or at least by how little they seem to care. At first I was quite enthusiastic to explain about what was really going on back in my homeland, thinking that people here might be dying to know at last, from a first source, what the fighting is all about (as you can see, I was so desperate and firm to tell my story I even sometimes did that on restaurant napkins), but then, as time went on, I got accustomed to the lack of interest of people on the subject and I understood that maybe I was, after all, in my attitude at least, wrong.
My behavior proved that my mindset was in the state that it did not want to accept that my homeland's problems are superficial. But Canada is filled with people like me; people who come from shedload of backgrounds bringing with them the mentality and traditions of their homelands. If each of these people should think that their background story is more important than others', then the cause of creating a untied and strong Canada is lost.
A lot of people perceive Canada as a tolerant country... harmless and quiet. Well, it might be true. But I feel it is important to highlight that Canada is all of these things not because the people here are so friendly that they embrace your foreign culture with closed eyes and welcoming arms, not at all, but rather because you, yourself, learn to put on the side your culture - never forget it, of course - and accept that there are other stories beside yours.
Rethinking all of this reminded me of a sobering fact: if we, Israelis and Palestinians alike, do not learn to implement the Canadian tolerance in our midst, then we are as helpless and doomed as anyone. And in the end of it all, no one seems to care about this as much as we should. 

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