Conclusions of the subjects 1999

Theme 1999: Tolerance of society

Conclusions of the International Christian Artists Symposium
August 14-20, 1999, SBI Doorn, Holland


  1. Definition of Tolerance: a voluntary withholding of all kinds of violence towards persons or groups whose beliefs, habits or behaviour you do not accept or agree with.
  2. Definition of intolerance: an unwillingness to withhold your violent reactions towards persons or groups, whose attitudes, beliefs, habits or behaviour you do not accept or agree with.
  3. To be tolerant you have to admit the intolerance in yourself. Tolerance is an “easy” subject on paper, but in daily life people are more and more confronted with the “otherness” of others. People may easily feel threatened, different and scared. To work in an open society with a place for us all, is a big challenge for the future.
  4. Tolerance in past centuries has been a step towards democracy, so that all could have a voice. The Powerful had to learn to "tolerate" the voice of the powerless.
  5. Tolerance must grow from a bias of embracing human rights - the Ten Commandments as moral codes for society.
  6. Acts of tolerance do not mean you just accept everything, even though this may look intolerant.
  7. Tolerance today seems more and more to have become an attitude of "live and do not bother me". Instead of solidarity and participation it seems to create distance and passivity in society.
  8. Justice, solidarity and mercy are important for every area of life.Ethnicity and artistic diversity will add richness to a society where all can have a safe place to live.
  9. Religious intolerance has bloody hands! Where and when people claim to hold the “only truth”, we should create an environment where oth-ers can speak about their convictions. The moment doors of mutual understanding are closed, a process starts of exclusion, victimising, marginalising and we find separation that leads to violance.
  10. How tolerance has to function must be defined in each sphere of life:
    • the family and education
    • media
    • politics
    • employment, unions
    • community, ethnic groups, cultural expressions and religion
    The questions are: why and where you draw a line! Can it be justified?
  11. IA society so full of diversity and sick of absolutes seem to have a strong need for moral standards in public justice, giving guidance to the civil society.
  12. The challenge for politics - the EU must have clear laws of logic that give all the space needed for the various groups to flourish together. Creating a melting pot is not desirable because cultural uniqueness is one of the characteristics of Europe. The EU is defined by culture, not just the market-economy.
  13. Fundamental Question:
    Where are the borders of tolerance?
    Do we give a public forum to extreme anti-democratic ideas? Is it possible to have those as part of an open debate? If we don't, are we not being intolerant?