January 30, 2020

How can we tolerate intolerance?

Shauneen Kelly, 51

My piece is about tolerance. My ninety-one-year-old, Catholic, great aunt, born and raised in Belfast has always espoused tolerance. She experienced religious intolerance first-hand. ‘It’s a terrible shameful thing done to us but don’t be like that. Take people as you find them. Sure, we are all the same underneath. Everybody has to live. Protestants are the same as us, just different.’ She would say. The world has changed substantially during her lifetime. Populations have grown; technology has expanded our ability to communicate and we are more cognizant of diversity, yet intolerance persists. Speaking to her recently my great aunt was expressing her displeasure as a Chinese family had taken over the local Post Office. I expressed surprise and quoted back to her all she had instilled in me about tolerance and the impact of prejudice. She nodded sagely in agreement, then paused and said, ‘Yes, but they’re Chinese.’ Whilst in the piece I explore intolerance and its impact on a political level it is really a plea for tolerance to be embraced in all aspects of life, whilst recognising that we are only human and doing our best.

The incorrect hanging of toilet paper and its reprecussions, 2020