THE EDITOR: The outcome of the Brexit election, the election of Donald Trump as President of the US and the recent results in the German election all seem to indicate a rise in right-wing ideology.
It was reported that the Chancellor of Germany, in response to the success of a right-wing party in last week’s general election, indicated that there was much more work to do.
The question arises: what is the nature of that work? Is it to convince those on the right that xenophobia is not an option and tolerance is the way forward?
The freedom to practise one’s religion and culture in an open society in many instances conflicts with the rights of others.
Religious and cultural freedoms by their very nature can be divisive. Another challenge on the road to equality is that of race or ethnic tolerance.
In the US, for example, there are communities where the police and government are perceived to be oppressive. In such communities, experiences of police brutality, racial profiling and employment discrimination are real but no less than others where families and communities experience gun violence, robberies and various levels of criminal activity from minority groups.
In Europe and many other developed countries worldwide, the desire to reach out and accept refugees is sometimes in direct conflict with the dangers posed by inviting cultures and religious practices that threaten the peaceful existence of citizens. Perhaps these conflicts support the growth of right-wing ideology. Perhaps it is time to talk again.
Discussions on unity, freedom and equality are not as easy as they once were. Global communication made possible via social media is now immediate and far-reaching. Religion is not as endemic as it once was and economic concerns usually take precedence over social issues.
It might be appropriate to commence discussions at the level of the United Nations aimed at preserving the freedom of religion and cultural practices while ensuring that no one, regardless of race, religion or wealth, imposes their will on any other.
Additionally, one may suggest that political secularism might not be anti-religion but an ideal that preserves the religious freedom of all people. These renewed discussions may want to ensure that there is no compromise to the pursuit of racial equality.
Additionally, the discussions may also include zero tolerance for practices, cultural or otherwise, that threaten the civil liberties of others.
These discussions may be long overdue as the ultimate solution to social discord lies in dialogue. Ignoring the challenges is not an option.
STEVE ALVAREZ via e-mail