OPINION: Tolerance is a two-way street
FREEDOM has come under attack again in another part of the world.
Make no mistake, the killers of the Charlie Hebdo magazine cartoonists and journalists in Paris intended to silence freedom of speech, freedom of thought and free expression.
Cartoonists and journalists should not be silenced by threats, intimidation or criminal actions, no matter what the cause or justification, but should continue to fight for all our freedoms - that's our duty to our readers and to our children.
Freedoms are too easily lost and too hard won.
The world is facing a wave of fundamentalism as abhorrent as any repressive and intolerant ideology we've ever witnessed; Nazism, Fascism or Communism. The world has stood up before and it must stand up again now.
No more political correctness, no more pretending that appeasement is the answer. Aggressors view appeasement as weakness to be exploited which only emboldens them and their cause.
Winston Churchill, arguably the greatest western leader of the 20th Century, hit the nail bang on the head when he said, "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
For too long political correctness, wrapping the truth up in cotton wool and repackaging it as it isn't, has governed much of our media. I detest political correctness because it's anti-truth. A cartoonist's job is to dig, to get to the truth, to satirise and inform in one neat little package.
Today the free world faces the challenges of violent Islamic fundamentalism and how to respond to it. Do we continue to sanitise the truth and look the other way, or do we say speak up and say 'enough'?
The only way to fix a problem is to discuss it, openly and honestly. Looking the other way - or pretending it doesn't exist - is not the solution. I teach my kids to tackle any problem head on, as soon as they're aware of it, before it gets worse.
Root out the weeds in the garden early, spray the problem with a solution. Watch the garden grow, flourish and bloom; diverse colourful plants and tasty herbs can share the same plot of land in unison and harmony to make a beautiful garden.
Tolerance is the bedrock of harmony in a modern world. We can't all be the same and we can't all have the same belief system, opinions, ideas or prejudices but we can respect, appreciate and tolerate those different to us. Overall, Australians are incredibly tolerant, and that's my view from an immigrant's son with a funny foreign surname who's been embraced by editors and millions of readers to express my opinions.
But tolerance is a two way street.
There exists in the world today an ideology that is unforgiving and intolerant of those with different beliefs and opinions to them. That ideology uses fear, violence and terror to intimidate those not as them. It's bullying in its worst form.
We can never cower to this bullying and we can never allow bigotry masked as a religion to win. Our forefathers fought for all our freedoms, including political, religious and social liberties. We owe it to them and our children to remain ever vigilant and critical of intolerance, in any form.
A good start would be to address the violent, military, political, bigoted and legal layers of religion. That's a challenge for political and religious leaders that needs to be addressed urgently. Yes, Mr Abbott, it has a lot to do with religion.
Until this is done, the violence will continue, and that's just intolerable.
It's time to say 'enough' to intolerance. The freedoms we all enjoy depend on it.
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