A Christian Social Ethical Definition of Tolerance as a conceptual basis for the project “Tolerance at the Borders of Europe – the Ukrainian Dimension”
Draft from 18.03.2019
Markus Vogt, Rolf Husmann,
with contributions by Michael Fetko and Felix Geyer, Ivo Frankenreiter, Ihor Vegesh, Marianna Kolodiy and Alexander Bokotai
- Aim of the text
This text was developed during a project conducted at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany (LMU) and the National University of Uzhorod in Transcarpathia, Ukraine (UzhNU). This project is sponsored by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and part of a long term academic cooperation. The text is meant to be a systematic development of a concept of tolerance that can be applied practically in education and civil projects in Ukraine, especially in Transcarpathia in order to promote tolerance in a time of growing fear, discrimination and aggression. Therefore it wants to elaborate, what tolerance can mean and how it could be communicated being challenged by the concrete situation in Ukraine and growing doubts in society.
Although tolerance is seen as a key value in the Western hemisphere, many doubts arise, sometimes fueled by propaganda, whether tolerance would rather be a merely Western idea that enforces Western imperialism. On the other hand a lot of criticism may occur on a religious field as tolerance could easily be misunderstood as indifference or relativism. Thirdly, people might wonder if a religious approach is suitable when developing a universal tolerance model. Our aim is to show that those arguments cannot convince.
- There are many different reasons that make tolerance a universal and indispensable concept: political-pragmatic reasons (securing peace), epistemological reasons (there is no last intersubjective knowledge of the truth) or ethical reasons (protection of freedom and human rights). Having said that tolerance is necessary in a democratic state: As democracy gets its dynamic from the controversy of opinions, dissenting opinions neither can be excluded without examination nor can be accepted without expressing dissent. In so far both sides of tolerance (passive in the sense of non-exclusion, (pro-)active in the sense of dealing with different opinions) are a condition of democratic behavior. Democracy needs a culture of dialogue that prevents violent conflicts (not conflicts at all) and tensions from evolving hostility but that allows to transform these into understanding, cooperation and development. Tolerance can be a framework of this transformation and the virtue of democracy.
- Concerning the fear of relativism one can state that the concept of tolerance should not be confused with a lack of interest or with indifference, since the agents of tolerance (except for the state) are not required to give up their personal point of view and the truth claims linked to their personal stance. Especially in the view of religious people one has to highlight that tolerance does not mean to give up religious truth claims. On the contrary: One can continuously see his or her religious world view as the truth and consider other opinions as false, but tolerance allows a religious person to find arguments that make dissenting opinions appear tenable despite of the personal convictions. For example: Although a person does not believe in God, I as a theist can accept his/her humanism as I see the good effects of it.
- Our intention is that this text can be accepted universally by all people despite their religious or philosophical stance. Nevertheless we consider a Christian approach as an essential contribution to a concept of tolerance. The Christian approach to an understanding and a practice of tolerance is fundamental especially because it can turn out to be problematic as history has already shown. The Christian approach has been full of tensions and shows a late learning-process. The question of tolerance has often escalated in the context of religion. A theory of tolerance without any theologically grounded relation to religious truth claims and its problematic side would overlook a real history of conflict and would therefore be ethically unsatisfying and incomplete. Nevertheless, the ambiguous history of Christianity, a history of both tolerance and intolerance, leads us to the logical core of a tolerance-concept: One should not play off strong convictions that are often linked to a religion against the willingness to deal with dissenting opinions, convictions and practice. Strong convictions are an indispensable part of societies that will not go extinct. Instead, tolerance is a way of peaceful coexistence of dissenting strong convictions that is demanding every agent in society (also the churches) to contribute to. Finally, Christian narratives and principles can promote tolerance as well as secular and humanistic perspectives. The aim is to arrive at a “humanism of the other human being” (Levinas). This is at the heart of the biblical faith and goes even beyond tolerance in so far as it aims at radical openness to other human beings: especially foreigners, those of a different belief and those who suffer. This could be a common ideal for both Christians and humanists.
Having clarified the necessity of a concept of tolerance, we want to describe a model of tolerance that we consider appropriate for the situation in Ukraine.
B. Systematic Development of the term
B.1 Differentiations concerning the term “tolerance”
From the original understanding of the term, ‘tolerance’ had a narrow scope and meant to endure a physical or moral harm. It merely related to the discrepancy from target values. Due to some experience of religious intolerance the term tolerance became one of the crucial political concepts in the Age of Enlightenment. Today the meaning of the concept has broadened: It now refers to respectful acceptance of diversity of individuals, groups and organizations in a community that may arise from different religious attitudes, worldviews, ethnicities, languages, sexual orientation, opinions, behavior and values.
We consider tolerance to be an attitude and behavior that a subject conducts in the view of different objects of tolerance. As we have already seen, the objects of tolerance can range from characteristics and opinions to behavior of another person or group of people. This extensive meaning is highlighted in The UNESCO Declaration of Principles of Tolerance (1995) as follows: “Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human” (Art. 1 I). Only those characteristics can serve as objects of tolerance that make a difference between the tolerated individual and the tolerating subject.
Tolerance as attitude and behavior is a complex phenomenon as it contains two contrasting components. There is of course a denial component in the sense that one does not agree with the opinion or behavior of someone else and considers it to be false. On the other hand this denial does not go so far that there is no place for acceptance. One can still find arguments (that might not count as much as those against the dissenting stance) for the dissenting opinion or the different behavior so that one can accept other positions as tenable despite disagreeing with them (acceptance component). This might seem paradoxical at first sight but the reasons for accepting or denying lie on different levels: As the reasons for denying are part of an individual and particular ethos, the reasons for accepting an opinion belong to a universal moral that is based on the idea of mutuality and reciprocity. The particular ethos relies on cultural aspects and individual values, on that not everyone is agreeing, whereas moral depends on a universal view and therefore is based on a formal moral that everyone can logically comprehend. Moral arguments will and should not reverse the individual disagreement but allow everyone to accept a plurality of behavior and opinions.
The tolerant attitude and behavior are also complex as they can be differentiated by the motivations the subject of tolerance shows when acting tolerant. Those motivations can be systematized in a three stage model as the following chart points out:
|passive tolerance||mere toleration|
It begins with a first passive stage, which is about merely tolerating behavior, opinions, attitudes, etc. of other human beings and about foregoing violence. It is not about finding positive aspects in dissenting opinions or different behaviors. A merely tolerating subject only intends to swallow down aggression. This is basically tolerant behavior because of pragmatic reasons, such as the necessity to live together in a community or the aim of a peaceful coexistence of different groups in a society. It is considered to be a passive tolerance because it is not focused on getting engaged with people but rather to coexist with them peacefully.
In addition there is a second level of tolerance that is based on respect for individuals: Respect for each personality forces everyone to give reciprocal and universal reasons for everyone’s duties. As I realize that every human being has equal rights, it becomes obvious that every duty that I want others to comply with forces me to comply with them, too. Moreover, respect includes that the truth claim of the individual ethos is not exclusive but open so that in the eyes of the individual human being dissenting opinions appear tenable. Tolerance lives up to the capacity and willingness to take the stance of another person and to respect different experience and the independent individuality of every person. This stage can be defined as active as it demands a communication between the different groups and individuals in society. In this sense the UNESCO understands tolerance as “active attitude” (Art. 1, II).
Finally, there is a third concept of tolerance that characterizes tolerance as appreciation. This means to recognize different opinions as expression of a pluralistic society and as riches to a community. This stage goes beyond the respect concept as it does not only recognize the dignity of the person but also recognizes the worth of the different opinions and actions. This stage can be characterized as proactive because it prevents the growth and escalation of conflicts by building up trust between different groups through communication. Proactively tolerant people seek communication because of a free, self-determined decision and because they have a positive interest in other human beings.
Those two concepts of respect and appreciation require an openness to have the own pictures and convictions changed. This is intrinsically linked on the one hand to the insight that one sometimes may misjudge and on the other hand to the readiness to learn continuously. The active and proactive tolerance can be characterized as openness to dialogue. Respect can be seen as openness to the necessary social dialogue that manages the way different people can get along with each other securing individual freedom, equal rights and respect. Appreciation instead goes even beyond because dialogue is highly esteemed by the people as a form of individual enrichment. Although both types of tolerance aim at dialogue, they are neither aiming at giving up one’s own point of view nor at equalizing one’s opinion with another. On the contrary (pro)active tolerance demands a settled identity that cannot be shaken by a dissenting opinion or different behavior in order to enable them to take part in a dialogue that allows a change of perspective and a learning process. Moreover, (pro-)active tolerance allows taking an individual stance and deciding for an individual practice more consciously. Active and proactive tolerance mean to defend tolerance by advocating the protection of freedom rights. Only because of the (pro-)active component tolerance can be distinguished from mere indifference, lack of principles or the non-committal avoiding of decisions and demarcations.
B.2 Ethical assumptions and rules of the concept of tolerance
After we have defined tolerance as a broad concept that refers to nearly every kind of difference between two individuals and described the components and the different stages of tolerant behavior, we would like to highlight those theoretical assumptions and principles that underlie our concept.
Our concept of tolerance is based on three ethical assumptions:
- Tolerance is a “conflict-term” (Rainer Forst) because it is only relevant in situations of dispute between different convictions, interests and practices. Tolerance does not dissolve those conflicts but limits the destructivity of the dispute or – in the best case – brings about a positive dynamic. (Therefore we spoke about tolerance as a means to prevent violent conflicts.) Tolerance as a conflict-term means that tolerant behavior can only be analyzed in contrast to intolerance. Therefore it is important to examine all parameters that determine intolerant attitudes of one social group towards another. This allows us to propose new methods and ways of implementation in societies of all different kinds.
- The concrete shape of tolerance has to be adapted to a specific situation since it is a practical demand of conflict parties. Therefore a concept of toleration has to formulate concrete recommendations and imperatives (contextuality and concretion). It is most likely that there is a variety of possibilities how to implement an adequate concept of tolerance in a distinct society. Although a concrete concept may differ from the others there is a core of the concept that cannot be given up.
- From an epistemic point of view the term ‘tolerance’ alludes to a tolerance of ambiguity in the view of the meaningfully plural reality (Thomas Bauer). Therefore there is a certain acceptance of the ambiguous in order to cope with reality. Christian tolerance opposes a naive and fundamentalist thinking reducing the complexity of the world to clearness. This way of thinking is currently exercised by the identitarian movement and threatens the social coherence. Tolerance is required in order to see the plurality of cultures, worldviews and conceptions of man in a society not as a threat but as riches. It can be stated that identities in themselves show tensions and are complex and dynamic so that they often cannot be put in an antagonistic contrast to other identities. Fights between social groups become severe when the definition of an identity becomes hermetically secluded.
The concept of tolerance as it is presented in this text contains some normative rules:
1. Tolerance is based on the principle of reciprocity: I must concede those rights that I demand for myself also to others. This corresponds with the Golden Rule that can be found in most of the cultures and religious communities (e.g. in the Bible: Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31). The decisive means to promote tolerance is open and sincere dialogue. This includes the right to a personal opinion that is not waived when one is mistaken. Without such a right (with limitations) a pluralistic society cannot develop. Reciprocity means that every person has the same rights and therefore every action or decision that might limit the freedom of another person has to be justified either by the state or an individual person that is imposing a limit to this very freedom. On the other side every person whose freedom has been limited has a right to ask for a justification. This justification can only be given by universal moral arguments that reflect the equality of human beings. Such a justification cannot be founded on particular ethical values and therefore only formal moral arguments on the basis of the idea of equality can convince. If someone is denying the “right to justification” (Rainer Forst) and therefore the relevance of moral reasoning, his understanding of tolerance remains void and injustice is an imminent danger.
2. Tolerance as a communicative phenomenon can be described as a mutual process. Mutuality demands to indicate that all communication participants are equally important for establishing tolerance. Therefore tolerance is based on the idea of parity that can be promoted through a process in which all communication partners make use of the opportunity to take part in this process. Securing and using the opportunities of active participation is necessary in order to balance the communication process. Tolerance can never be one-sided and has to be mutual.
3. Tolerance does not mean acceptance without limits: Social injustice does not fall within the scope of tolerance. The UNESCO sees the violation of human rights as boundaries of tolerance: “Consistent with respect for human rights, the practice of tolerance does not mean toleration of social injustice or the abandonment or weakening of one’s convictions.” (Art. 1 IV).
4. Tolerance must be understood as a “fundamental demand for justice” (Rainer Forst). It helps to operationalize the often undefined use of the term “justice” by focusing on a criticism of injustices that deprive people from their rights to freedom and participation. Tolerance gains social effects when it prevails in the fight against social injustices with adequate means and does not lead to indifference in the view of injustice. Moreover, the protection of minorities belongs to the primary principles of justice according to this concept of tolerance. This idea will be explained more detailed in a following passage.
The concept of this text is put into a Christian perspective of fulfillment and progression that goes even beyond tolerance and connects the concept intrinsically with the aim of peace. This implies some key points:
1. From a Christian perspective tolerance is to be put into an eschatological horizon: Till the fulfillment of the world there will be differences in opinion: Therefore until then everyone is urged to exercise tolerance. As long as the kingdom of God has not come to its fulfillment and is only secretly present, tolerance is seen as a crucial Christian virtue. The Christian reasons for tolerance are not based on an epistemological skepticism or a particularistic relativism, but on the acceptance that intersubjective reason is limited in ethical questions of truth, so that a space for reasonable differences is gained (pluralism). Tolerance as virtue requires the capacity to take distance from one’s own point of view and to recognize the limits of one’s judgment.
2. Tolerance includes a non-secluded dynamic of an intensifying process of tolerance. With this in mind tolerance can be seen as a pragmatic reasonable rule or behavior on a first step. On a second step it can be characterized as a moral duty in the language of fundamental-ethical discourse.
3. From a Christian point of view the biblical peace ethics can provide a chance to develop the understanding of tolerance with success. Peace ethics understood as the method of “love of de-enemification” (Lapide) expresses a practical and deep meaning of tolerance. This ethics aims at overcoming hostility by not getting involved into the propagation of violence and disregard. Gandhi is a formidable example. By acting peacefully he showed the world and his oppressors that their behavior is unjust and victimizes him. By that he made injustice as such visible and allowed his oppressors to find a way out of the friend-enemy-thinking pattern.
4. Especially in the context of a so-called clash of civilizations scenario the here presented understanding of tolerance can show its importance on the field of peace politics as it helps to reveal and overcome problematic thinking patterns (e.g. friend – enemy). By deconstructing thinking patterns (as e.g. a conception of an enemy) tolerance supports an appreciation of plurality and aims at a constructive dealing with differences. The outcome is peace within a community as well as outside.
C. Practical Reasoning
The discourse cannot stop with a theoretical reflection on tolerance but has to put the question of application. The essential question of the application-discourse is that of the context of a specific conception of tolerance. For different networks and kinds of human relationships, for different societies, situations and ages the adequate concept of tolerance looks different.
In order to adapt the abstract concept to the concrete requirements of a certain society a practical conception of tolerance has to cope with four challenges:
- It has to specify the framework that is needed in a society so that tolerant behavior can evolve. This is mainly a question of discourse-conditions. It should be guaranteed in a society that there is freedom of speech, effective protection of personal rights. Tolerance is intrinsically connected also with some core values, such as domestic security, justice, peace as well as inclusion, integration and social cohesion in a polyethnic, multi-religious and multicultural modern society.
- A practical concept of tolerance has to specify the basis model: Therefore one has to ask for concrete reasons that can be given in a society in order to promote the necessary component of acceptance: Why should someone tolerate a dissenting stance? It should analyze the reasons of denial and differentiate between acceptable and immoral reasons (e.g. racism, because it neglects the dignity of every human being). Also it should formulate specific demarcations of tolerance: What kind of opinion or behavior cannot be tolerated because it is social injustice?
- A concept needs to consider the relevant agents in a society that can contribute to the development of tolerance. Therefore it is important to formulate concrete duties and tasks.
- A concept of tolerance can only be implemented if tolerant behavior is motivated strongly. Therefore the concept has to deal with the question how it is possible to motivate tolerant behavior and which means can be successful in a specific society to motivate individuals.
The last two aspects of a practical conception of tolerance need further explanation that shall follow in the following chapter.
C.1 Analysis of agents
The application discourse about tolerance remains shapeless if the principles of responsibility-ethics are not considered and the question of subjects and objects of tolerance is not addressed. Subjects of tolerance are persons as natural conviction-holders, associations of people, societies and states. Objects of tolerance are opinions, actions, aims and convictions. Only by addressing the subjects and objects of tolerance the term ‘tolerance’ can be given a concrete and committal status in society.
In the following the text focuses on different agents in society and their contributions, duties and rights in the context of tolerance.
C.1.1 Agent state
An important agent is the state as it can guarantee the framework of tolerance but has to act very prudently in order to save the free and democratic society:
- The state should be neutral in the view of religion and worldviews. Only a neutral state saves the right to a religious and cultural self-determination of the people. It makes a peaceful coexistence within a pluralistic society possible as the power of the state cannot be misused to discriminate against a specific minority. In this context only those rules should be made law by the State that are based on reciprocal, universal reasons that principally everyone can. This safeguards the state’s neutrality.
- There is only tolerance in a world of conflicts and powers. Therefore tolerance bears also a component of power. As the state is a major bearer of power it should make only prudent use of it. Legislation and restrictions should be minimized to those areas where it is necessary for the common good and for the protection of the rights of individuals. Only if the state keeps a liberal and free regime tolerance can flourish.
- The boundaries of tolerance are the boundaries of justice. Therefore the state should comply with the idea of equal treatment. Applying the principle of differentiated equal treatment, it becomes clear that equal things have to be treated equally and objectively unequal things unequally so that tolerable opinions and behaviors are to be tolerated whereas intolerable things cannot be tolerated (Rainer Forst). Having this in mind the state must forbid discrimination and protect minorities, especially in the view of political rights, and concede to them a certain degree of autonomy in a (federal) society, a right to political representation and a certain basic support that might be necessary to persist in a different majority-society.
- A major task of the state is to establish the framework that is needed for a liberal and plural society. Basically this means at least to create opportunities that allow communication between different groups in a society. Tolerance can only be achieved if a peaceful coexistence can be secured for different social groups and if a dialoguebetween those groups can be made possible. Moreover, it is essential to form a cooperation based on the mutual values among all social subjects irrespective of their distinguishing features and positions in society. Furthermore, the state should watch over the political process that the interests of minorities are treated respectfully.
- Those abstract duties of the state mean for the concrete process of legislation: Tolerance cannot be made a detailed legal duty by state law so that the individual freedom extinguishes. Only severe violations against rights of others can be sanctioned by state. Moreover, as tolerance is a key aim for a peaceful pluralistic society, the state is urged to promote social commitment for tolerance by creating a framework that allows learning and practicing tolerance. This includes government funding for projects that are promoting tolerance.
- Tolerance is not everything. Tolerance can secure a peaceful coexistence of several different groups in a society. But it cannot achieve political, social and cultural integration. For this a basic consensus on justice is needed in society as well as a culture of communication about the different ideas of a good and meaningful life. Therefore the capacities of the state are limited, too. The state needs civil commitment and social agents like churches that bring about change in a society. In this sense the former German Constitutional Justice Böckenförde is right that the state lives from conditions that it cannot guarantee by its own legal means.
C.1.2 Agent citizens
In our concept of tolerance a major role is attributed to the citizens as the state cannot guarantee tolerance in the end. There are four main tasks that citizens can fulfill:
- Citizens should commit themselves to the cause of tolerance, especially if tolerance and liberal democracy are threatened. Therefore tolerance can be seen as a civic virtue because it demands the citizens to fight courageously against violations of tolerance and to take responsibility for each other. A liberal democracy has to be defended when the foundations of tolerance are questioned and intolerant and illegal behavior is spreading in the shadow of tolerance.
- Citizens should be open to dialogue. As we have already pointed out, tolerance can only evolve in a society if there is a sincere and respectful dialogue between the different individuals and social groups.
- Citizens should reflect critically on their behavior and ask themselves if their expectations for legislation respect the principle of reciprocity. They should wonder if restrictions that might be imposed on the liberties of individuals can be justified by reciprocal und universal arguments.
- Pluralism in a society will never be without frictions. Therefore a society does not only need respectful behavior but also some wiggle room for every individual. Citizens should pay attention to the insight that every individual needs a certain degree of distance (especially in the urban context) so that different lifestyles can coexist in everyday life (Uwe Wenzel).
C.1.3 Agent science
For the application of a tolerance concept in a society the interdisciplinary dialogue especially with political science, sociology, social psychology and history is needed. Leading questions and priorities for a scientific dialogue about tolerance are:
- It is necessary to analyze how societies deal with ethnical, linguistic and sexual pluralism, how the relation between the majority and minorities in a society develops and which historical events and narratives influence tolerance or intolerance in a society.
- Scientists should consider the deep structure of intolerance. Especially discrimination in everyday life is a hidden source of intolerance that has to be unveiled. All social-psychological deep phenomena have to be taken into consideration in order to understand why human beings tend to make someone a scapegoat or develop a concept of an enemy.
- The most important roots of intolerance are fear and unsettled identities. In the context of general social modernization of humanity, societies all over the world struggle with various types of xenophobia. In the view of building identities and personal behavior within a society insecurity and lack of orientation contribute to unsettled identities and finally to a growing intolerance towards alien convictions and behaviors. A practically orientated model of tolerance has to cope with these challenges in order to promote tolerance effectively in society.
- Researchers should focus on limits and boundaries of tolerance which are determined by the system of values and norms of a particular society. Due to the contextuality of tolerance it is necessary to specify not only particular conditions and rules but also definite factors, states and properties of societies which either support the development of tolerance or impede it. In a second step one should add practical measures that can be taken in a particular society in order to promote tolerance.
- For the purpose of an adequate concept it is very important that scientists cooperate with local professionals because they provide special knowledge of regional conditions of tolerance formation.
C.1.4 Agent churches, religious communities and theology
As cultural identity is often linked to religious content, there are major tasks that have to be undertaken by churches, religious communities and theology.
- Religious leaders should clarify that tolerance should not be misunderstood as indifference or relativism. The prejudice that tolerance is nothing but the loss of truth is an obstacle to tolerance in a pluralistic society.
- Tolerant behavior can be trained by dialogue. Therefore religious groups should install dialogue panels on all levels from the leaders to the members of a parish so that prejudices between different religious groups can diminish.
- Religion can contribute by motivating tolerant behavior. Why motivation is needed and how it promotes tolerant behavior is explained in the following chapter.
C.2 Resources and motivation for a tolerant behavior
It belongs to the practical dimension of a tolerance concept that it has to fit in the concrete situation of an ethical pluralistic society. A formal concept that essentially is based on the principles of reciprocity and universality in the view of legislation tends to run dry in a pluralistic society as the formal principles are not supported by the ethical convictions of different social groups. Therefore pedagogical, religious and civil motivation of tolerant behavior plays a major role.
As a consequence the moral and formal concept of tolerance needs to be completed by a narrative ethics that provides resources and motivation. It is required to develop individual ethical points of views so that all individuals can appreciate the formal process of organizing a fair life in society and the formal rules of a tolerant cooperation. A narrative ethics can fulfill four functions: It can give reasons for an ethical behavior, it can train the moral perception of reality, it can give orientation in life and serve as the symbolic horizon of meaning for a human existence (Johannes Fischer). The narrative ethics can contribute an affective and motivational component (personal meaning, personal orientation in life, values) in order to make people approve the formal moral concept of tolerance. Educational programs, religious practice and civil commitment can support the necessary learning process of passive, active and proactive tolerance.
D. The tolerance-concept and the situation in Ukraine
The cultural diversity in the multi-ethnic border area Ukraine belongs to its strengths. For centuries different ethnical and religious groups have lived peacefully together. Especially Transcarpathia has become a laboratory of interconfessional, interreligious and intercultural communication because of its history. A current source for motivation for tolerant behavior can be seen in the experience that tolerance worked out and peace in society prevailed.
Therefore one can state with good reasons that multiculturalism has the potential to build up a tolerant society. This idea can serve as the basis for solutions of many Ukrainian problems. The pluralism of political, confessional, ethnical identities is a mere reality in Ukraine. The coherence and peace in society need an effective concept of tolerance.
Social ethics has developed a three steps model to deal with practical challenges: See, evaluate, act.
D.1 See & evaluate
It is necessary to see and to understand the specific problems and challenges in order to recognize the hidden potentials that enable us to find a solution. These solutions can only be find by a in depth analysis. After having analyzed the situation one has to evaluate the findings on the basis of the ethical groundings we presented above. In the view of the situation of Transcarpathia and Ukraine we would like to highlight the following aspects of tolerance as a way to peace:
- The society needs and has the right to oppose the hybrid warfare, which manipulates opinions and stimulates separatism and internal tensions, as well as the military aggression and the disregard of the territorial integrity of the country. One has to take into consideration that a war cannot be won only by military means. The internal feeling of uncertainty has to be fought against. In the end the question is about the identity of Ukraine in between Europe and Russia. As Ukraine is marked by Eastern and Western characteristics due to its history, the unity can only prevail under the condition of tolerance of ambiguity and hybrid identities.
- Describing the theme of tolerance in Ukraine in the light of the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine demands to emphasize both the hybrid nature of Ukraine and the process of forming a negative image of Ukraine and Ukrainians in the eyes of Russians and vice versa. The practical study of tolerance will facilitate resistance to negative imagery on which Russian propaganda is based.
- Corruption and opaque networks of power and dependency, the lack of stable structures in the state and in the civil society of Ukraine as well as the fast economic, social and ecological transformation-process leave many people unsettled. Tolerance needs foremost civil courage in connection with the rule of law and freedom as well as a modernized administration that allows on top of that the establishment of dialogue-processes between state and citizens. Tolerance should not be confused with indifference but show an active commitment in favor of human rights as the value basis of a tolerant society.
- There is an imminent danger that the suggestion of reconciliation between Russia and Ukraine turns out to play down the committed injustice and could discourage Ukrainians that suffer from the unlawful actions undertaken by Russia. In this sense a concept of tolerance for Ukraine has to highlight the boundaries of tolerance: Right does not have to give way to injustice. Hostile aggression that threatens the territorial and political integrity of a state is not tolerable and has to be named injustice and to be condemned as such. At the same time everyone has to hold out his hand to the people in Ukraine that sympathize culturally with Russia. Protection of minorities is an indispensable component! Refusing intolerable behavior does not mean that one loses respect for the legitimate wishes of other people in a society. This is a complicated mission!
- The analysis should focus on the significance of ethnic stereotypes and prejudice for a growing intolerance in Ukraine. Moreover an interethnic relations study on various levels at the same time in polyethnic and multi-religious Transcarpathia can bring about new insights as well as a comparison between the situation in Ukraine (which is divided today by people’s attitude to “the Russian world”) and modern Europe, where definite difficulties occurred in the process of supranational community creation. Russia is not only manipulating Ukrainian society but also other European societies. The Russian Federation supports the right-wing parties in Europe. The Russian state aims at splitting the European community and deepening the interior conflicts by fueling xenophobia. Those means belong to the arsenal of hybrid warfare that is impeding tolerance significantly.
- As part of the civil society churches can assume an important role as they could highlight the importance of tolerance. In order to fulfill this task the churches should overcome the interior conflicts first. Moreover, new divisions should be avoided and tolerance in face of conflicts (e.g. of interests and identities among the people) should be trained. As churches enjoy high esteem and trust they can easily become places where tolerance can be trained: e.g. in sermons, educational work for tolerance in schools and in the media, training of mediators and establishment of effective communication platforms.
D.2 Act: Perspectives for implementation of tolerance
After analyzing and evaluating, concrete measures should be proposed in order to implement a model of tolerance. We would like to propose an educational model that could be one conclusion to the analysis of the situation in Ukraine. Ukraine needs a broad educational and pedagogical program in order to promote tolerance. This project should focus on four tasks:
1. Rules for social interaction should be defined. As we have pointed out before, tolerance needs a respectful dialogue that is based on rules. These rules have to be reciprocal and universal. The need for universally acceptable rules should be explained in this context.
2. The participants in this program should learn about the historical, social, psychological and political backgrounds of intolerance. It should take into consideration the problems of particular ethnic minorities of Transcarpathia. This can make them more resistant to intolerance.
3. The participants should build up their own identity and learn about different identities. This allows them to formulate reasonable arguments why they disagree with dissenting opinions (denial-component of tolerance). On the other hand this allows them to formulate arguments why they think the dissenting opinion is tenable and acceptable (acceptance-component of tolerance). In this context it could play an important role to deal with building up a nation’s identity that can contribute to a positive personal formation as long as the nation’s identity is not discriminative. 4. The project should offer different arguments and narratives that can motivate tolerant behavior so that the participants are not only informed but also encouraged to behave tolerantly.
The educational project should be developed as a practical and theoretical program for Ukrainian higher education institutions as well as a program for families, territorial communities and organizations that focuses on the specific requirements of these institutions.
The proposed education program is one measure that should be applied in order to promote tolerance in a society under pressure. It is obvious that it is only a contribution to a complex and long process but we strongly believe that it is a necessary step to take in order to secure peace.