(VOVworld)-November 16 marks 20 years since the launch of International Day for Tolerance by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The event has been widely welcomed by countries all over the globe including Vietnam.
Vietnamese people have many proverbs that encourage tolerance, for example, “The haves help the help nots” or “When a horse is sick, the whole stable refuses grass”. In feudal times, Vietnamese offered food and transportation to foreign invaders to get home after defeating them. 15th century strategist Nguyen Trai wrote in the “Proclamation upon the Pacification of the Wu”:
“Captured generals, tigers reduced to impotence, implored pardon
Generous victors, sensitive to the will of Heaven, we granted them quarter
For Ma Ky and Phuong Chinh we provided five hundred junks
Out at sea their faces were still green with fear
To Vuong Thong and Ma Anh we gave several thousand horses”
|(Source: New Europeans.net)
Contemporary history has witnessed similar examples of Vietnamese people’s tolerance. In 1968, Charlie company of the US army raided and killed 504 unarmed civilians, mostly women and children including newborns, in My Lai village in the central province of Quang Nam. Haunted by the massacre, many of the soldiers involved have returned to My Lai to beg for forgiveness. When asked about her feelings, Pham Thi Thuan, a survivor of the mass killing, said nothing can compensate for the loss of her 6 relatives but she forgives the American soldiers who have shown repentance. In 1969, a US commando team led by Bob Kerrey killed 21 civilians including elders, women and children in Thanh Long hamlet in the southern province of Ben Tre. Kerrey, who later became a US senator admitted that he has been obsessed by that painful incident and the sin he committed and has apologized. Relatives of the victims have said nobody should forget the past but hatred should be buried.
The image of the mother of the victim and the mother of the defendant hugging each other in tears at a recent murder trial in Vietnam melted many hearts. The mother of the victim even asked the judges to lighten the penalty of the defendant. Vietnamese kindness and tolerance was also demonstrated by the veterans who built a bridge for school children in the Mekong Delta and the retired teacher who continued to tutor disadvantaged children.
Love and tolerance will eclipse and gradually wipe out hatred. But tolerance does not mean self-abasement or condescension. Tolerance means respecting, accepting and appreciating the diversity of world culture. Ultimately, it means promoting the recognition of people’s basic rights and highlighting humanity in each individual.
For Vietnamese people, tolerance is the most precious gift of humankind.