Here are some previous thoughts on the subject of Tolerance. When you have finished on this page, click Back to look at other topics

When Myriel and I are eating, there is often a third, feline, companion sitting on the floor by the table. Bandit hopes to receive, and often does, titbits of our meal. Anything handed down to him this way, he devours without a paws for thought (a reader challenged me to get this phrase in somewhere!). However the same food placed for him in his bowl is usually treated with utter disdain.

Human beings too want to be included. We want to feel part of what’s going on. Not pushed off to the sidelines or treated as somehow less important than others.

Among the acquaintances and colleagues of most of us, there are people who tend to get sidelined. Who, we imagine, if we ever think about it, must often feel unimportant. Perhaps today is a day for noticing people to whom this might be happening and trying to find a away of including them.

My hairdresser, Peter, a Greek Orthodox non-churcgh-goer, was waxing lyrical about St Paul. “He really speaks to me,” he said. So I enquired what had sent him back to reading the Bible. Apparently he had been discussing with an Iranian client the relative virtues of Christianity and Islam. They had agreed to read each other’s holy books but Peter had also found himself rereading the Bible. It sounded as though the net effect of this had been to make both of them more enthusiastic about their own tradition but the debate sounded fascinating. I expressed the unlikely hope that I would be waiting to have my hair cut, and so could eavesdrop, next time the Iranian was in the barber’s chair.

In a world where recent conflict, some of it very violent, has been seen as being between Christianity and Islam, it was encouraging to hear of passionate yet peaceful argument about the merits of the two religions.

Perhaps today might be a day for asking ourselves what beliefs we hold passionately and how we can contribute to a world where profound differences of opinion can be explored with respect and mutual delight.