Anger and tolerance don’t mix. Yet as a French citizen who moved to the UK more than a decade ago, I feel a bit betrayed and consequently, although not justifiably, angry.
I loved the idea of a united Europe that would lead the world in terms of environment, human rights and social justice, to show the way of a new “possible”. I never was blind to the fact that the model developed was more economic than anything else but I hoped it would evolve toward a more social vision of the union of European Countries. The UK leaving is a blow to that dream. I understand the fears that motivated this move but feel it’s a wasted opportunity for a more fraternal and environmentally friendly world.
Immigration is perceived as one of the main reasons why the UK is leaving but, like the rest of Europe, it needs migration for a variety of reasons (NHS, making sure the pension system doesn’t collapse, qualified and unqualified labour…) but maybe more to the point, a multicultural society is surely a good model for the future and far more fun than a completely and boringly homogeneous nation.
Tolerance is a mind-set. In no case does it mean that you agree with everything and that you instantly become a “yes-person” always seeking to please and appease. The motto “my freedom starts where yours stops” doesn’t apply to tolerance but there is definitely a give and take principle determining the boundaries of one’s of tolerance.
To me it is more like having a sense of values, a sort of measuring stick by which you evaluate ideas and actions. Democracy, by no means a universal notion, is really a tool of great importance to insure tolerance in society and as such, has to be protected at all cost.
Visit to Hades (partial view)
It sometimes looks like our sense of community and shared values is fast disappearing. It feels we are living in times of crisis when politicians threaten to shut down parliament or defy congress. We need to cherish democracy and its instruments and not forget about the alternatives. More than that, we need to look beyond the horizon of our borders and build supra-national friendships not only based on trade, but also on culture and sharing. We need to weave links and relationship across the world.Today’s quotes on the fragment of poster are:
“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendency of one sect over another.”
― Thomas Jefferson
“No idea is above scrutiny and no people are beneath dignity.”
― Maajid Nawaz, Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue
Tolerance is a key concept in being able to live in society ad allowing society to evolve. In that respect, the human figure is treated as a symbol of humanity rather than a description of individuals. It is there to remind us that what unites us is stronger than what divides us. The works seeks to demonstrate an engagement with the world in which we live and the common fate of humanity.
Here are some more quotes from my weird poster:
“Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one”
― John Lennon, Imagine
“Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time.”
― Richard Dawkin
“God is a concept by which we measure our pain.”
― John Lennon
“We have to believe in free-will. We’ve got no choice.”
― Isaac Bashevis Singer
What is not to like about Jon Lennon and his quotes are great but my favourite is definitely that of Isaac Beshevis Singer, who is a fabulous writer with a dark sense of humour.
As part of my exhibition at the Gerald Moore Gallery this coming November, I wanted to design a series of poster celebrating fundamental British values, which I would love to call fundamental human values if they were more widespread… The result is a series of “weird” posters (which I had great fun creating and which I like very much). One of the posters is about the importance of respecting people’s beliefs…which should go without saying but doesn’t always. I found a series of quotes related to the subject, which I liked, were interesting and relevant, expressed a whole spectrum of opinions and set up a dialogue with each other.
The idea is, again and always, that as human beings, what unites us is far greater than whet divides us… or should be.
Here is more info about the quotes. My favorite is definitely Voltairine de Cleyre. I have to add that even if I find Mencken’s quote very funny, I do have a serious problem with his views in general (I will try to think abut the difference between tolerance and acceptance)
“What has he found who has lost God?
And what has he lost who has found God?”
― Ibn ‘Ata’ Allah Al-Iskandari
“I die, as I have lived, a free spirit, an Anarchist, owing no allegiance to rulers, heavenly or earthly.”
― Voltairine de Cleyre
“A philosopher is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there. A theologian is the man who finds it.”
― H.L. Mencken
“When the stars threw down their spears
And watered heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
– The Tyger”
― William Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience
“I figure if there is a God, She’s good and surged right now about the state of things down here.”
― Hillary Jordan, When She Woke
Talking about intolerance , a good friend of mine once said: “Women having the same rights as men is a sure sign of a society based on tolerance”. According to this, we still live in extremely intolerant times on many levels. The fight for equality shouldn’t exclusively be the fight of women but that of both women and men against the stifling patriarchal system. What is needed is a radical societal push towards equality starting at a personal level.
I can be “head in the clouds”, absent-minded and chaotic, yet thinking about society, our political system and how quickly we tend to take for granted the essence of the society in which we live. In the caption, instead of “being British”, I probably should have written “feeling British” or feeling in harmony with a sense of Britishness”. As a French person, I’ve always been amazed at how accepting the Brits are. it’s a quality I’ve always found admirable and reassuring. Yet, I also feel it may be slightly eroding…
I will try to use this blog as kind of diary to get my thoughts organised and leave a trace of my process and ideas. In contemporary UK, the theme of tolerance is intrinsically linked to politics as we witness the raging Brexit storm and its effects. Beyond politics, I am interested in the personal and “spiritual” aspects of tolerance, as well as its social repercussions.
I am pleased to announce that I am working on a very exciting Arts Council funded project on the theme of tolerance. This will lead to a great exhibition at the Gerald Moore Gallery in November.
More to come very soon.