Kiril Temkov
Faculty of Philosophy,
University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius”, Skopje



Maybe the most beautiful thing that has happened in the new epoch in an aspect of humanity, in its history and progress, especially from the point of view of the noble human ethics - is that despite the ugly behaviors and bad relations, despite clashes or evil thoughts, still, today, there are nice relations and strives, which have never happened to the people with such intensity before. And that makes our epoch an important period of humanity. One of most important characteristics of our time is that tolerance really lives.

People no longer wish to live in conditions of hate, murder and revenge, to be the objects of the escalation of evil, they don’t want to bear hatred and to behave with hostility towards others. In repressive systems there is no respect for people. Wars, violence and terrorism are not constructive elements of humanity. They provide neither love, nor life. There is just a contest for the number of deaths, and for intensity and great scale of the destruction. The human no longer likes to be connected with, or lead towards annulling, subordination and suppressing the other.

The idea of Tolerance is a completely opposite conception and practice. The meaning of Tolerance is to enjoy life and to enjoy the lives of others. Its statement is simple: "Live and let live!” In comparison to denying the other, with violent behavior, with the rejection of other people, of their ideas for life and moral norms - Tolerance is a high ethical model of human behavior.

Tolerance is a principle of patience, bearing the opinion, beliefs or views of others, or a principle of not using violence when contesting other people’s opinions and attitudes, when representing, preaching and spreading ones attitudes. According to the provisions of the Declaration of the Principles of Tolerance, "Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of cultures in our world, our modes of expression and ways of representing our quality of being human... Tolerance is harmony in difference... Tolerance is a value that makes peace possible and contributes to the culture of war to be replaced by the culture of peace".

The foundations of this great principle were established by the most important ethicians, the Stoics, who, in the framework of their rational strict ethics of duty inaugurated the idea that "all people are equal." They considered themselves as cosmopolitans (citizens of the world, not of one country). Similarly, the French educator, Montesque, says, "I'm necessarily a human, and accidentally a French". Also, the basic idea of Tolerance is the Hindu teaching of ahimsa, as an ethical method of not hurting another being either in thought, or with words or by deeds. The idea of tolerance as a worth and necessary human behavior was introduced in contemporary life and culture by the great English philosopher, John Lock, in his "Letters for Tolerance" (1689-1692), in which he supported tolerance and the endurance of different views of the world, of different religious attitudes:

"Tolerance towards those who have different religious convictions is so much in accordance with the Gospel and reason that it is really abhorring that people do not see it in clear light... No private person has any right in any manner to prejudice another person in his civil rights because he is of another church or religion. All the rights and franchises that belong to him as a man, or as a denizen, are inviolably to be preserved to him. There is not the business of religion; neither violence nor injury is to be offered him, whether he be Christian or Pagan. Nay, we must not content ourselves with the narrow measures of justice; charity, bounty, and liberality must be added to it. This the Gospel enjoins, this reason directs, and this that natural fellowship we are born into requires of us."

From then, tolerance began to develop as a spiritual, ethical, cultural and political principle of the world. Today, people try to understand others - and they often do, they have a feeling for different approaches in creativity and different ideas that appear through creativity, and in politics democracy has become a dominant model, where any person in society presents himself as an equal to others, at least as a voice that can be given for something. The convergence between systems and political and ideological attitudes is one of strongest arguments for the connection of the contemporary world with the faith and real-life happening.

In that sense, tolerance is something relatively new for humanity. Up until half a century ago, there was no society in which people were really equal; they were victims of some kind of differences (property, class, educational, cultural, spiritual, generation, ideological...); segregation and discrimination were common phenomena. Not long ago, a large part of the world was of a colonial or a neocolonial status, and ecumenism, as an idea for connecting all people into one world (acumen), is a phenomenon of this time. In the three centuries since Lock presented his idea, tolerance has developed as any other great human value. It was a projection at the beginning, explained and desired as a realization. Then some people represented and presented it, mainly to do with questions of religion and politics. It subsequently became a partially accepted value and, later on, it started to look like something natural, something that belonged to mankind. Then it became widely accepted and used in different situations and on different occasions and cases. Afterwards, it became a part of the practical mind, representing an important ethical value. And some time ago tolerance started to become a universal ethical value, used in many areas and by many people. Now it waits in line to become a general ethical value, one of the most important in an axiological hierarchy, one that will determine other values and norms of human behavior. Today, for those both good and aware, it represents a hope for correct and positive relations among peoples of the world.

If people can be tolerant, it should not be forgotten that there have been moments in history when they have been like that. In India, tolerance as a value exists with millenniums, especially between Jainaists, for whom tolerance as non-violence is a supreme ethical law, one that determines all norms and behavior. They think violence has levels; non-violence doesn’t have levels because it is unique. Moreover, supreme goodness is a respect of the living that is opposite to any kind of violence, and as the most important value - together with creation through love - was also emphasized by our ethical teacher, Pavao Vuk Pavlovic.

For the development and justification of tolerance, of particular importance is the fact that in different areas with a mixed ethical and religious population - as is the case in our Macedonia - tolerance has existed for centuries as an interrelated patience and has not been affected in spite of differences. People live close to each other; they develop and follow their religious beliefs, their views on the world and ethical principles; they communicate - without denying others or undertaking actions in order to exterminate and eradicate. An opportunity towards a common living for people with different conceptions and emotions is the real power of human existence and civilization.

Tolerance should become a consistent achievement of the human spirit, a common moral attitude and a standard style of behavior between people. Then, civilizations will be stable, humanity will progress, and individuals and communities will benefit from this. This goal, and the potentials for a conciliatory and tolerant, common existence are stated in the most important, ethical-anthropological document of our epoch, The Universal Declaration of human rights.

Tolerance has already become a common and acceptable value in different areas - religion, ethics, creativity and culture, social relations, politics and international political relations. It appears there as an expression of universal liberalism, as a spirit and an aspiration of our epoch.

Tolerance can and should manifest itself as a row of new ethical forms of living and acting: as peaceful coexistence, cohabitation, regional cooperation, as an opportunity for the coordination of attitudes, ecumenism, a system of regional and world organizations (as a means towards some connection in the world and acting through the whole world), as Universal Ethics, that connects and unites ethical values and aspirations.

Libertarianism is a common, spiritual and cultural wideness in our epoch. As a form of modern tolerance, it should be spread in a more substantial and deep sense, for a human to be taught to be of good behavior, to an extreme patience, to a true Tolerance. Tolerance, of course, should develop in all areas, even in the vital sphere, where the principles of living and the preservation of life should become a primary meaning of human understanding and acting. Essential tolerance should prove its foundation, its wideness and value, exactly in the sphere of vitality, during the course of life, where differences are real and unchangeable, where they don't depend on a wish or an accidental orientation of the creatures, but are naturally conditioned and are therefore more tough and harder to change than those in the semi-permanent sphere of spirit.

The most valuable contribution of this orientation at the beginning of our century is the important ethical attitude of humanity, that the preservation of life should represent the highest, unavoidable and most necessary ethical principle. In a developed civilization, that provides the conditions for a good, decent life, the common survival of the living - of all forms of existence, even of the Earth and its resources as her body - is a necessary condition for the strength, quality and justification of existence. Human existence as a reality and as a value neither can nor wants to be built upon someone's destruction any longer. It has been realized, understood and claimed, that for the happiness and development of a person it is not necessary to destroy, to suck the juices from the other, to conduct merciless exploitation, to erase another living creature from existence.

Therefore, this new ethic includes the understanding and development of vitality. Although human beings up till now have existed in a natural environment, their spirituality and morals have rarely been connected directly to nature. There was even a greater separation from nature, and communication with it through mediators. But, the hypertrophy of human separation from nature, his blind and endless gripping at nature, followed by a criminal distancing from its sufferings, with an increasingly accentuated artificial vitality (in all spheres of realization of a vitality - from breathing, moving and feeding, right up to sex) – demonstrated to mankind both the beauties and meaning of a direct relation with nature as well as the necessity of improving the vital functions as a way to a more humane life. For the first time in the history of mankind, preserving life is a human living goal, keeping vital functions working longer is an ideal, endangering vitality is not moral, etc. (which is directed especially towards the new aspects and developments in Bioethics, Health ethics, Addictions ethics and others).

A significant aspect of this overcoming of universal natural destruction or, again, of the insufficient use of vital bases and capacities, is the resultant changed relationship between the sexes. Our civilization, this way of accepting the world, its priorities, behavior, domination, the realization of its functions, values, and its priorities and the like, is patriarchal. Patriarchal traditions wish to be important in our world too, as is the struggle for retaining the real, negative, ethical relation towards nature as a whole. Today we realize, and we believe in this more and more, that without equality between the sexes, without sublimation of female creatures up to a level of substantial factor of existence, no further human life is possible and there will not be any quality relations and development of modern societies.

This problem for our epoch and generation has definitely moved into the domain of a natural basis of life. We are not only talking about a social equality between men and women, as equal human beings in one society and time, or about their psychological equality, like beings with the same feelings and equal intellectual and creative potentials - but about a moral equality between men and women, as subjects with the same ethical potentials and equal levels of responsibility towards creating productive attitudes toward life and human survival.

In today’s world, an era of female ethics has begun. That is a moral of understanding, worrying, caring and giving, of patience, of the best qualities that make the female side of an existence a constructive one for survival. Let us give an example as to how the change of the ethical spirit of humanity can be seen through the problem of tolerance.

According to the fine explanation from the old Montenegrin ethic philosopher, Marko Minjanov, man should possess humanity and bravery. Heroism (bravery) is saving yourself from others, and humanity is saving others from yourself. Today, ethics is expended with care for the world and others, elements added from the female spiritual and real potentials. That is what the great contemporary ethic philosophers, Lev Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer and Erich Fromm, express as love and respect for the other.

This love and tolerance for others, for life and for people has been expressed in an extraordinary manner by women - Rachel Carson and Petra Kelly, in their concerns about ecology, and Mother Theresa, originally from Skopje, in her care both for the poor and for sufferers. With a modest and efficient moral message, Mother Teresa expressed that quiet, but most important ethical attitude: "We cannot do great deeds, but we can do small, good deeds with great love."

That is the key as to how the true strength of the ethics of our civilization can be realized from the vital basis of existence.