English 3, Sec. 30
Dr. P. Gilmore
Essay #3, Final Copy
December 10, 2007
Redressing Our History of Intolerance
Intolerance and contempt for life have marked the history of humankind. Looking back at
thousands of years of warfare and imperialism, one can easily come up with this conclusion.
However, during the same timeframe, humans have been practicing various religious traditions
and Secular Humanism. Such traditions have offered paths to cure the world of such ills.
Unfortunately, despite the best intentions of religion, extremists and fundamentalists have
misused religion, sinking the world into an even deeper abyss of intolerance and contempt for
life. The study of the unity of various traditions, and of humankind itself, offers a path to truly
cure the world of such ills. Many writers, including The Dalai Lama, Michael Lerner, and
Frederick Franck, have written on this issue. Those three writers—a Buddhist, a Jew, and a
Secular Humanist, respectively—while differing in details, convey the same central message:
Treat others and the entire world with tolerance, compassion, and reverence. Doing so can
redress the ills caused by our history of intolerance and contempt.
In “The Journey of Dialogue,” the Dalai Lama writes that religion is like medicine “in
that the important thing is to cure human suffering.” He goes on to explain that no religion is
superior to others. However, a particular religion can be the most effective for an individual. He
asserts that for this reason, one must respect every religion. To promote this respect and
understanding of various religions, believers must engage in some sort of interfaith dialogue.
According to The Dalai Lama, interfaith dialogue includes religious leaders meeting each other,