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E. Faleiro: We Need to Accept Others, Not Just Tolerate Them

Address to the International Leadership Conference
Tokyo, Japan, November 12-16, 2008

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, conflicts are no longer on ideological grounds but are basically — or supposedly — about religious differences. Therefore, if we want to bring peace to this world in our time, religious harmony is crucial. We must understand that all religions are different expressions of the same human desire to attain the absolute.  

When the UN was created, religion didn’t have the same importance in the world polity that it has today; rather, it was a personal matter. But now it is on the public platform; it’s in the political dialogue. It’s so very important to have an interreligious council. It’s important to get religious leaders to communicate and to agree on what should be done to keep harmony, build peace, and bring people together.

The United Nations should not only deal with human rights. The time has come to understand that every right involves a responsibility. As Einstein said, whatever we are is because of others. Gandhi also said that whatever happiness we have, we owe to others. Therefore, we have responsibility toward others, not only rights. What others can do for us is just as important as what we can and must do for others.

We have come a long way since the time the United Nations was created. Now, it is necessary to democratize the United Nations and particularly the Security Council. India is the second most populous country in the world and represents almost one-fifth of humankind, and should therefore have a seat on the Security Council. So also should Japan, Brazil, and Germany, just to mention a few. Whatever the composition of the new Security Council will be, Africa and the Islamic world should also have some voice. Democracy is not only a process within nations, but also among nations.  

Training in conflict resolution is extremely important. Values need to be instilled in people when they are young. Therefore, we must have peace education.

We need religious education that teaches children more than just their own religion. They should learn about other religions and understand that all religions are different expressions of the same desire for God. All religions fundamentally say, expect, and preach the same things.

On the question of tolerance, I think we have to move beyond tolerance of other religions to acceptance. We should not just tolerate other people but accept them as we accept ourselves.