This is my theme for this entry in the We Imagine Peace (Global Art Collaboration Project). After spending some time thinking about this theme, I found tolerance a difficult subject in the goal of promoting world peace, because I see the word as meaning accepting something negative, or the practice of permitting a thing of which one disapproves, such as social, ethnic, sexual, or religious practices. I believe tolerance is a starting point which should eventually disappear in favour of acceptance.
So I had to think of how to represent this, and decided to relate it to my personal experience.
The figure in the drawing is my great grandfather, representing (in this case) generations of poor ideologies and false conceptions, mainly as a result of the times, and how small the world was for the individual a century ago. My father frequently used racial slurs in his everyday language- I don’t believe this was motivated by hatred- I believe it was learned behavior, and that he did not conciously mean to cause any harm. He certainly did not intentionally promote any ill will toward people of other ethnic origins in our home. However, using language like this is harmful even in the smallest measure. I have explored the concept of ‘generational sin’ in some previous writings, equating this inherited behavior with the term family shame. I felt that this was a good topic to illustrate “losing the shame” of intolerance.
The writing in the background of this piece is an excerpt from an essay on the psychology of using racial slurs in language. The gist of it is that stereotypes are a result of a lack of knowledge, and misconceptions can lead one group to see themselves as superior to another. Using racial slurs in speech is referred to in this excerpt as “the language of oppression.”
Today, with so much information and knowledge at our fingertips, and within reach of our youth, misconceptions and stereotypes are beginning to fade. Even in today’s world of mistrust between nations, truths are easier to find, which leads to understanding and combats fear and hatred, creating more tolerance.
Find common ground.
I am happy to report that in my home racial slurs are NEVER used, and we promote acceptance and learning about that which is not understood. We are actively LOSING THE SHAME of our former generations.
Why the jellyfish? Some Google searching revealed that it is sometimes seen as a symbol of tolerance because of its minimal impact on the environment- they rely on the currents of the ocean and the winds to move it in the direction it needs to go, (in other words, they ‘go with the flow’) and they take only the food they need.
Thanks for taking a look! Let me know what you think….