From what point of view are you looking to understand your surroundings?
To study the whole universe from the beginning until the current date is a time-consuming process. Not even a historian can explore all the information and right education about the existence of the things in the whole world including the creatures and species, the materials, and the living and non-living things alike. There are hundreds of subjects that we can tap on to curb history. There are plenty of different fields of study that we can explore to fully understand everything. From the point that we study all the branches of Science, Mathematics, Engineering, Architecture, Liberal Arts, Commerce, and History from the Universe to the planets- this will widen our perception of all the abstract and concrete involvement of matter to which we depend on for our needs as humans.
In the current state- the earth is in severe pain and humans are struggling to survive against the global problems including pandemics, endemics, famine, health problems, etc. to which species could hardly find ways to survive.
In this writing, thoughts on global problems are stated about what’s happening on this planet and why we should be prepared and change how we deal with the earth; by protecting it, preserving it, and using what we only need and not what we want to have.
These are the main focus of this writing:
2. Inventions (ideas)
4. Cults (Secret Societies; cults, freemason, Illuminati)
It’s hard to accept the fact thinking and looking at how the Earth consistently suffers.
So, this time, find out the truth.
Based on the Statistical data from a website; There are 7.9 bn people on the earth now. And there are 7.9 bn voices to consider believing and not believing about how the planet shall be used or abused.
There are hundreds of millions of individuals who are condemned to share the truth on how to preserve what God has given to us for free.
Who are these individuals?
These are the kids, teens, youths, young adults, adults, and seniors in different careers and professions who have worked hard and done their best to speak their voice to the public providing solutions, ideas, thoughts, programs, lessons, agendas, inventions, and new technologies for the sake of the welfare of the citizens of each nation.
Humans are prone to negative thinking. In Psychology, the human brain is so powerful as it is also regarded as a supercomputer that could produce billions of currents per second – that’s thoughts afterthoughts.
Why Education is necessary for the 21st century for each person to realize the actions that we take and how we should be accountable for them?
Who is to blame?
All of us are to blame. All of us are the fruits of our labors.
BUT there’s something that we all shall understand. This is the lesson of telling ourselves that we are also the ones who could save the whole world.
We must put into our hearts and our minds- that we are learners and educators. That we could easily create and build an idea based on its purpose regardless of its efficacy in its form.
We also needed to fix our mistakes and conform to righteousness. Since the beginning of civilization, globalization, industrialization, commercialization, and the revolution and evolution of ideas– humans used to take advantage of the natural resources and natural reserves of the earth from land surfaces, ocean surfaces, and sky surfaces for the unconditional reasons which seemed to be unacceptable to my point of view.
People do it because of their DREAMS.
People have forgotten to conceptualize whether their plans are destructors or contributors to the wholesomeness of the living things and non-living things.
The kids in this era will have to accept the consequences of what the people in past and world history from the 7 continents and 204 nations have completely- brought into the earth as an implementation of ideas for survival.
Ideas are in the form of abstracts. We could hardly change our habits of not understanding what we want. We must try to understand our obsession and – that’s in the form of dreams.
Have you tried asking yourself about your dreams?
Let me tell you this.
There are different types of dreams. A dream is the foundation of an invention. And let’s dig deeper about building an invention for your dreams.
It is truly easy to build an invention by harnessing the extreme gifts of Nature. But have you ever thought about what you envision? Go and try to ask yourself whether you would be one of them. Don’t fit yourself into those people who only care for their dreams. These types of people are selfish.
If you know what your dreams are for and who will benefit from them- you may show consideration not only for your advantage but also to give relief to the ones who might be using your ideas.
Inventors on the planet earth have brought massive changes to the outlook of the future. Science is everywhere. Mathematics is everywhere. Engineering is everywhere. Graphics are everywhere. Architecture is everywhere. Everything is structured into systems just like music.
Now imagine this…. If everything is music from the solar system to the planets- when you strum the strings it creates vibrations. Vibrations are everywhere. Listen to the soundwaves that your ears create. These are vibrations. Everything on the earth through abstract and concrete forms is made of music. Music is everywhere. In Electrical engineering, music plays a huge role in how understanding the existence of an infinite source of vibrative power through the land (magnetic power), ocean (hydropower), and sky (geothermal power). Therefore, if you do something no matter how small it is- it would certainly build an impact whether it’s negative or positive- it would not appear naturally. Our emotions and feelings are vibrative currents coming from our brain cells. We create our vibrations and we build a structure with them. Normally, we attract others to join us in anything that makes us happy. This type of action was built-in vibrations. You attracted someone and it’s like you used magnetism to attract another person to feel your vibrations.
It is just a matter of learning what to think and not how to think. Because thoughts affect events.
So, are the inventive ideas that we create for us to relieve ourselves with our possessions to succeed–fully enough to not worry about?
Having a passion and dream to become a scientist, inventor, engineer, architect, mathematician, researcher, entrepreneur, banker, educator, academic, or doctor– is a long journey. The people involved in building ideas either for their benefit or for the sake of others- are spending much time making their concepts work. And they would thrive hard just to make it happen. That’s the human spirit.
In Psychology, ideas are powerful. It is like a magnet. It attracts positive and negative events.
Mostly, dreamers in the 21st century are not using wisdom.
Now, imagine this…
You have to think about the current status of the world.
There are thousands of global problems. All of these problems create effects. There’s no such term as one problem; or one solution because things create positive effects and negative effects. Everything is connected like a circuit. Everything is in the form of a system. And one of the biggest systems is the system of greedy and corrupt people. Global issues are all systematically linked and caused by similar attributes.
One of the biggest issues is getting the people to take action and eliminating the greed the people of wealth have. We also need to enlighten ourselves on how we can remove the crazy leaders of the world, and motivate people to participate in solving global issues, not for profit but for the safety of everyone against the effects of each one’s daily activities globally. And everyone can start by doing something small, and building upon it. We are accountable for our actions and aside from not buying things that we don’t need- we must allow wisdom to cleanse our mind, heart, soul, and attitude toward the planet and every being. It is said that though the human race has made tremendous progress in science and technology, we still have war, poverty, greed, and exploitation. Those are some of the same problems that have existed since ancient times. Things are important to hold onto including dreams and goals and visions for the future. It is not all about what you want to achieve, but it is all about what you are required to accomplish; for getting rid of the existing global issues and not consume the time every day for adding more problems. That’s what is happening now. Instead of fixing the existing issues, billions of people and leaders are creating new issues. Everyone’s mind is lost from the realistic way of living. We have survival needs as humans and we only need to focus on those and not on external possessions.
Never forget to apply wisdom because an idea is useless if it would only destruct the world. If this idea is just a want and not a need for a living and survival, it would push the earth into a pressured situation. It will destruct the natural resources and natural reserves and all humans will die, not because of money and killing but because of lack of oxygen and lack of landmass as our foundation for survival. We need to practice using analysis to understand our current situation. We must acquire the right knowledge about the consensus of each country by determining the events and the increase of population per day and the usage of different services and products domestically and through international trading.
Now, imagine yourself as a genius who thinks about everything and who studies everything. Someone who can make a change.
How long are we going to do this to the humans, earth, creatures, species, and everything on the earth?
There are hundreds of millions of websites that talk about the global problems and these are handled by entrepreneurs, advocates, inventors, activists, journalists, writers, and scientists– and some of them are dealing with some projects that they’d like to implement, to solve global problems in politics, economics, society, government, and environment.
How should we take action?
The ecosystems are now totally broken and we must fix it.
If you take a look at how the Earth looks now, you may be surprised about its changes.
Almost everyone is not fully aware that the world is controlled by cults. Secret Societies are the ones that create global activities. They are everywhere and they don’t use wisdom for doing things as they know that the evil will take care of everything that they ask. If you make your analysis about how these multinational companies have succeeded – they sacrifice everything that they could get; humans, plants, animals, and invasion of things. These corporations, agencies, and organizations are part of the cults. They believed that money can buy everything that they possessed.
The secret societies are scattered in all the nations recruiting people to do evil things. If you are familiar with the Law of Attraction, you would understand how these evil people attract others using giving them fame, power, and money. Take a look at what these world-known businesses, companies, industries, leaders, entrepreneurs, and celebrities have in common; they all have a massive amount of wealth and unending fame, and controlled power. They all work together. Don’t live with what your eyes see. Search for the truth and awaken yourself to understand that the world that you are living in is completely broken. The earth’s natural resources and natural reserves are controlled and owned by governments and wealthy families.
Money is powerful for everyone. You can buy everything that you want. It is the medium of exchange for services and products in any marketplace. But these days, money is hard to earn. You have to learn how to earn a skill and a knowledge because things become so competitive that we could hardly fit ourselves into the markets as the human population increases every single day. But make sure that you understand how to balance yourself with money. Don’t let it control you. Make yourself balanced through thoughts, emotions, feelings, and actions. Never allow yourself to be greedy and corrupt. Become someone who could lead others by being realistic and living with the truth.
Money has been the root of disastrous events. I am saying this because people don’t have contentment and they ask for more. They need more. That’s how greed and corruption start. Since the beginning of industrialization, individuals in the past started trading commodities in exchange for their needs and wants. The old way of trading products and services was the Barter Economy. Until then, organizations, agencies, and governments have started printing paper money to circulate in the economy and for building different infrastructures to keep the global economy systematically connected.
How are we going to recover from this disastrous situation in the world now?
In its simplest form, we need the right Education. We must educate ourselves on things that matter. Education comes from different learning areas. We can learn from books and life experiences. It truly depends on us what learnings we put into our lives and how we apply them. But we must educate ourselves about global problems and use our abilities, skills, talents, capacity, interests, and knowledge to make a change for each one’s benefit. We need to apply wisdom in each action that we tap on. Wisdom will give us light about things that make our dreams dimmed and locked into our desirability.
Hence, aside from having the education to help the world become better- we need to buy more time. Time creates an illusionary movement and it drives us to the conclusion that it is now too late for us to save the earth. Seeing all of these disastrous events worldwide would make our minds complacent about where we shall start doing good. Well, it isn’t too late yet. All of us need to cooperate and do our actions regardless of where we are located and how much money we have in our wallets. These factors don’t matter. All of us can help—and we surely needed to help.
Therefore, the fate of the earth relies on the hands of humanity. If we humans know how to solve global problems and we strive hard to make our mission work, no one can stop us. Others might help or not help. But we need dedication and passion to make a change and build a foundation for people to follow so all of us- can solve problems on our planet.
We can do it. Hold your idea and build it whether that’s scientific or non-scientific, abstract or concrete—its form would not matter because the most important concept is the concept of self-reflection. Act on your thoughts and ideas and reflect on them but never forget to use wisdom. Wisdom is important and it will tell you what to do righteously.
Stop living in the metaverse or digital world. There are millions of things that we need to study about the outside world and not the inside world of digital activities or the internet itself.
We need enlightenment to make ourselves ready against the pointless ideas of other dreamers.
Having less knowledge of the real essence and benefits of science and technology is going to put our lives at risk.
Show love, care, and compassion, and allow God to be the light and give you guidance on your direction.
Human Security Perspectives on Hate Speech
As readers of this article, including myself as the writer, we have all likely encountered hate speech, sometimes without even realizing it. The way each of us perceives hate speech can vary, and its impact on individuals may also differ. This recognition leads us to acknowledge that both you and I have been victims of hate speech at one point or another. The challenge arises in whether we can classify what we’ve experienced as ‘hate,’ or if it was simply ‘speech’ that caused discomfort. Regardless of its nature, severity, or impact, hate speech is harmful and acts as a barrier to the well-being of our society.
What is hate speech?
What constitutes hate speech? According to the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech, it is defined as ‘any form of communication in speech, writing, or behavior that attacks or employs derogatory or discriminatory language towards an individual or group based on their characteristics, such as religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, color, descent, gender, or other identity factors.’ The strategy emphasizes that there’s no universally agreed-upon definition of hate speech within international human rights law. Furthermore, it clarifies that hate speech can take various forms of expression, including images, cartoons, memes, objects, gestures, symbols, and can be disseminated both offline and online.
Digital age as a challenge
In contrast to the past, today’s society is deeply entrenched in the digital realm. Consequently, social media has emerged as a prominent platform for communication. However, not all forms of communication on these platforms promote healthy discourse. Due to their wide-reaching usage, accessibility, and constant availability, even radicalized individuals, terrorists, and separatists have harnessed these platforms to further their agendas. While some employ social media to express genuine emotions, foster unity, and engage in constructive debate, others employ it to manipulate, mock, belittle, or denigrate individuals and specific groups.
As noted by Research Outreach, ‘The digital age has facilitated the sharing of online speech and content, often anonymously and without considering the consequences. While online publishing is instant, the mechanisms designed to regulate speech are frequently cumbersome and slow. In traditional media, editorial oversight from someone other than the author has historically served as an effective check on hate speech—a safeguard that doesn’t apply to self-published content on social media platforms.’ Additionally, as highlighted by Thorleifsson and O Düker, ‘Online environments have proven to be fertile ground for violent extremism, enabling socialization, recruitment, and accelerated radicalization. These digital spaces are often referred to as “virtual communities” or “radical milieus,” where information dissemination and involvement are actively encouraged. Even lone actors find connections within these virtual communities, sharing their worldviews and interpretations.
Impact of hate speech on human security
Before delving into what is hate speech and its impact on human security, it is pivotal to discuss briefly what human security is. Undoubtedly, society has changed and evolved and due to that reason concerns and priorities have also taken a change. Unlike in past, where military security is about the military forces and protection from intervention, at present security, includes notions which deal with human existences, such as human rights, food, water, energy, cyber and politics. As per the (Human Security Handbook, 2016), In 2012, the adoption of General Assembly resolution 66/290 marked a significant moment in the promotion of human security. The resolution outlined Basic Rights which means that people have the right to live in freedom and dignity, without getting subjected to poverty or despair. These rights apply to all, particularly vulnerable groups, ensuring freedom from fear and want and equal opportunities for all. The approach is as follows people-centric, context-specific, and prevention-focused. In addition, it is important to merit attention to Interconnectedness, where Human security recognizes the interconnected nature of peace, development, and human rights, encompassing civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. Another point is, it is Distinct from the Responsibility to Protect and is Non-Coercive. Another important element is, National Ownership, as Human security is based on national ownership, acknowledging the diversity of conditions across countries.
Therefore, hate speech violates human rights since it impacts the dignity and rights of human beings. The impact of hate is disastrous. The word “hate” itself is derogatory since it is prejudicial, angry and also condescending. The words “hate speech” go a step beyond. Some hate speech can be made at an instance, some can be more systematic, coordinated and pre-planned. Hate speech’s impact is multi-faceted and it is hard to rank it since hate speech is psychological. Firstly, it is crucial to note that hate speech affects the mentality of the person. According to, (Pluta et al, 2023) “the widespread ubiquity of hate speech affects people’s attitudes and behaviour. Exposure to hate speech can lead to prejudice, dehumanization, and lack of empathy towards members of outgroups”. According to (SELMA partners,2019) “more specifically, victims of online hate speech may show low self-esteem, sleeping disorders, increased anxiety and feelings of fear and insecurity”.
The said hate speech does not stop from inflicting pain on the mind only, it goes beyond. The reason is, that hate speech can be against a specific ethnicity, race, gender or religious community, which will result in division resulting in the erosion of social cohesion. In addition, the violence incurred on the mind of the individuals transcends to physical violence where hatred will result in riots and bloodshed.
An example of hate speech based on race is the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, which involved ethnic discrimination. According to the United Nations, decades of hate speech exacerbated ethnic tensions in Rwanda. This was achieved by spreading unfounded rumors and dehumanizing ethnic Tutsi citizens. The hate propaganda was disseminated through the infamous Radio Libre des Mille Collines, which incited the Hutu majority to commit violence against their fellow Tutsi citizens. Another example can be found in the Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The role of hatred and disinformation campaigns in inciting and legitimating war crimes during the Bosnian war (1992–1995) has been established. In Serbian majority areas, constant nationalist propaganda was disseminated through party-controlled media. This demonized the Bosnian Muslim population and other groups, portraying them as violent fundamentalist enemies plotting against the Serbs.
Another example involves hate speech directed at gender. One prominent instance is Gamergate, an online harassment campaign that occurred in 2014–15, targeting women in the video game industry. This campaign was mainly attributed to white male right-wing gamers who opposed the increasing influence of women and feminism in the industry. Notably, Gamergate acted as a recruitment tool for the emerging alt-right movement and played a role in propagating the online “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, which later gave rise to the broader QAnon conspiracy movement. Another instance of hate speech related to culture and ethnicity is the Christchurch Mosque Shootings. Just before his deadly attack on Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, the perpetrator posted a 74-page manifesto on 8chan titled “The Great Replacement.” This manifesto referred to a conspiracy narrative outlined by Renaud Camus in his book ‘Le Grand Replacement.’ In the manifesto, the attacker justified mass murder as necessary to defend Europe against what he saw as an ongoing “cultural and ethnic genocide” caused by multiculturalism and mass immigration. In his post, he urged others to spread his message, create memes, and engage in online activities. This serves as a stark example of how virtual platforms can be exploited to promote hate speech.
Internationally as well as domestically there are laws against hate speech. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), in Article 19(1) states that “everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference”. 19(2) mentions about “freedom of expression”. In addition, this can be “either orally, in writing or print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”. However, these rights can be curtailed as provided by law and are necessary, (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others, (b) For the protection of national security or of public order or public health or morals. Article 20 states that “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law”. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) in Article 4 mentions that “States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination and, to this end, with due regard to the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” In Sri Lanka, there are four laws against hate speech. Namely, the International Covenant On Civil and Political Rights Act 56 of 2007, The Penal Code Ordinance No. 2 of 1883, The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No. 48 Of 1979 and regulations under it as well as the Police Ordinance (No. 16 of 1865).
There are social media regulations as well. For example, Transparency Center, states that on Facebook, “We’re committed to making Facebook a safe place. We remove content that could contribute to a risk of harm to the physical security of persons. Content that threatens people has the potential to intimidate, exclude or silence others and isn’t allowed on Facebook.” An example of a global imitative is, the United Nations Population Fund. It is a (UNFPA) “global movement to address gendered hate speech online. It co-convenes the Advisory Group to the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse, and issued the UNFPA Guidance on Safe and Ethical Technology for Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices.”. An example of another global initiative is, Social Media 4 Peace, which was “Initiated in January 2021 in three pilot countries, with the support of the European Union, this UNESCO project aims to strengthen the resilience of societies to potentially harmful content spread online – in particular hate speech inciting violence – while protecting freedom of expression and promoting peace through digital technologies, notably social media.”
In spite of all the measures in place, the prevalence of hate speech in our daily lives continues to escalate, and this is a genuine tragedy. Therefore, it is imperative that we do not merely react to hate speech but take proactive steps to prevent it from occurring. Addressing hate speech in the 21st century requires a multifaceted approach that involves all stakeholders and paradigms. To enhance the effectiveness of hate speech prevention, several additional measures can be employed. For instance, governments worldwide should prioritize media literacy, enabling individuals to critically evaluate information. Furthermore, it is essential to promote counter-narratives to counteract hate speech campaigns. Additionally, educational initiatives should be strengthened to instill good practices and nurture empathetic individuals.
Robotization and the Future of Humanity
Robotization is the final form of capitalist degeneration of humanity. Capitalism does not transform robots into humans, but humans into robots. Instead of human evolution having a historical character, it takes on a technocratic character. Capitalism destroys man’s personality and reduces him to a functional component of technical processes through which capitalism destroys the human and living world. Marx’s concept of “reification” (Verdinglichung) points to the prevailing tendency of world development. Capitalism abolishes man as a human and natural being and turns him into technical means for the development of capitalism.
Robots are a projection of the capitalistically degenerated humanity. Capitalism abolishes interpersonal relationships and, in doing so, abolishes man as social being. Society becomes a crowd of atomized individuals reduced to a labor-consumer mass. People lose the need for human connection. Man no longer seeks humanity in another man, but in virtual worlds, pets and technological devices. Robots become a substitute for human beings.
Measured by capitalist criteria, one of the most significant advantages of robots over humans is that robots, as technical “beings,” can constantly be improved based on the productivist efficiency that has a profitable character. The rate of capital turnover is the driving force behind the robotization of humans and the technization of the world. In the end, the process of robotization comes down to the development of capitalism, which involves the increasingly intensive destruction of man as a human and life-creating being. Robotization indicates that there are no limits to the capitalist future.
This is especially significant when it comes to the “conquest of space.” The technocratic approach to space and to the cosmic future of humanity is conditioned by a dehumanized technocratic mind. Man is abolished as a historical being, and thereby as a unique and irreplaceable cosmic being. Rather than endeavoring to create a humane cosmos, man is instead, through technical means, abolished as a human and natural being and reduced to cosmic processes that have an energetic and mechanical character.
Robots are an organic part of the technical world, and their characteristics are conditioned by the nature of capitalism. They are mass-produced and, as such, disposable commodities. Robots are not social or historical beings; they lack emotions, mind, libertarian dignity, cultural and national self-awareness, moral criteria, rights, they don’t get sick, they work 24 hours a day as programmed, they are replaceable, and can be instantly turned off and destroyed…
Capitalists do not strive to create robots that are increasingly similar to humans in their qualities but rather humans who are increasingly similar to robots. Humans are not the role models for robots; robots are the role models for humans. Through the spectacular model of robots, capitalist propaganda machinery imposes on people the image of the capitalist man of the future. In reality, robots are surrogates of humans turned by capitalism into ideal slaves.
Sport is an area where the robotization of humans in the existing world has reached its highest level. The human body has become a technical means to achieve records, and the “quest for records” is based on a productivistic fanaticism with a technical and destructive character. This is what defines the personality of an athlete, as well as their relation to the world and the future.
Considering that capitalism is increasingly destroying the living conditions in which man as a natural and human being can survive, the distinctive ability of robots to function in environments that are deadly to humans becomes of paramount importance. The destruction of the living environment devalues man as a human and natural being and further encourages the process of robotization.
Robotization suggests that capitalism can survive without humans. In the capitalistically degenerated world, humanity is not just superfluous; it has become an impediment to “progress.” With the development of consumer society, which means capitalism’s becoming a totalitarian order of destruction, capitalism has come to the final reckoning with the living world and with man as a human and natural being. Man has become an “obsolete being” that is to conclude his cosmic odyssey in the capitalist landfill.
Talking tolerance in polarised societies
EU research projects provide fresh insights into what it takes for communities to accept different religious and world views.
By ALISON JONES
Ann Trappers harnessed a shock in her native Belgium to help heal social wounds across Europe.
After Islamic terrorist attacks in Brussels in March 2016 left 35 people – including three suicide bombers – dead and more than 300 injured, Trappers and her colleagues at a non-governmental organisation called Foyer sought to rebuild community trust and cohesion.
They used the NGO’s long-established youth centre in the religiously and ethnically diverse neighbourhood of Molenbeek. Their experience fed into a research initiative that received EU funding to explore and foster religious tolerance in eight European countries.
‘One of the ways in which we worked to counter radicalisation was to ensure it didn’t become a taboo subject,’ said Trappers, programme coordinator at Foyer. ‘We wanted young people to be able to talk about it freely and safely in the setting of the youth centre.’
Concerns about growing polarisation in Europe have pushed the issue up the EU political agenda.
The portfolio of a vice-president of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, includes dialogue with churches as well as religious associations and communities. The portfolio is called “Promoting our European Way of Life”.
The EU is also putting its weight behind various initiatives – including the Radicalisation Awareness Network – aimed at helping communities in Europe live harmoniously together.
The EU project in which Trappers was involved ran from May 2018 through October 2022 and was called RETOPEA. It brought together academic organisations from Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Poland and Spain as well as non-EU countries North Macedonia and the UK.
The project explored ways in which religion is regarded in the educational, professional and social realms. It also examined how peaceful religious coexistence has been established over history.
Past and present
The idea was to use insights gained from the past to inform thinking about religious tolerance today.
‘It’s not often you get the opportunity as a historian to make your work relevant,’ said Patrick Pasture, who coordinated RETOPEA and is a professor of modernity and society at Catholic University Leuven in Belgium.
The project delved into more than 400 primary source extracts from historical peace treaties, contemporary news reports and cultural snippets.
Based on these materials, teenagers from Foyer and other youth associations in each of the participating countries joined workshops to create their own video blog – or “vlog” – about religious tolerance and coexistence.
The vlogs, available on the RETOPEA website, include interviews with passersby, drawings and other creative work.
Pasture said the act of working together took the focus away from the participants’ differences.
‘The most important thing will always be that people have to learn to talk – to refrain from immediately judging,’ he said.
Spreading the word
Pasture was struck by the number of students who were unaware of the religious beliefs of classmates and by how open they were to talking about the issue.
He said most participants were upset about the divisiveness of contemporary discussions of religion and ‘hated’ the rise of polarisation.
Around a year after RETOPEA wrapped up, the results and materials collected are informing actions by interfaith organisations, governmental bodies and European teacher associations.
The project team is regularly invited to make presentations at teaching workshops and seminars in the EU and beyond – places ranging from Austria and Italy to Jordan and Wales.
And the European Association of History Educators – established in 1992 to build educational bridges on the continent following the collapse of communism in eastern Europe – includes the RETOPEA materials on its website.
Another EU-funded research project looked specifically at the notion of tolerance – how it feels for people to push themselves to accept “others” and what it feels like to be “tolerated.” The research relied mainly on questionnaires and online experiments.
‘People have their own opinions and their own beliefs and we can’t just expect them to give them up and consider everything of equal value,’ said Maykel Verkuyten, who led the initiative and is a professor in interdisciplinary social science at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.
Called InTo for Intergroup Toleration, the project ran for five years through September 2022.
In conducting studies in the Netherlands and Germany, Verkuyten and his team were pleasantly surprised to find that a clear majority of people regarded tolerance as an important societal value.
He said that most respondents agreed with, for example, the following two presented statements: “I accept it when other people do things that I wholeheartedly disapprove of” and “Everyone is allowed to live as he or she wants, even if it is at odds with what I think is good and right”.
On a cautionary note, the team also found that it’s far easier to move people towards greater intolerance than it is to make them more tolerant.
Verkuyten is driven by an interest in the middle ground of the whole subject – where space exists for differing views without any desire either to crush or to celebrate them.
He said this zone must be promoted through civics courses, human-rights lessons and other educational initiatives to help ensure the health of democracies and multicultural societies.
‘There is something in between being very negative, discriminatory, and fully embracing all diversity,’ Verkuyten said. ‘That’s essential for a functioning liberal democracy and indispensable for a culturally diverse society.’
Research in this article was funded by the EU via the European Research Council (ERC). This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine.
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