Move beyond tolerance towards appreciating different faiths

The Reverend Yap Kim Hao has rightly pointed out that we must go beyond "tolerance" of different religions ("Move beyond tolerating religious differences to continuously engaging one another"; Dec 14).

It is essential for us to appreciate different religions and the people who practise these religions.

Tolerance means we can live side by side. However, if we have religious appreciation, we get people uniting together for the common good because they see a value in someone else's belief system.

Working to create greater religious appreciation has become even more important as we see the rise of nationalistic and even xenophobic politicians elsewhere.

How did the nationalistic politicians in the West come to hold sway, when the West has been exceptionally tolerant of different cultures and religions?

The answer is simple: Western societies have promoted tolerance, which has its limits.

In Singapore, we need to go beyond tolerance and have appreciation, which is boundless.

There are many positive signs that we have religious appreciation in Singapore. I think of my Muslim and Hindu friends who remember me and wish me well during Chinese New Year, and the various Deepavali and Hari Raya visits I have made.

However, we cannot get complacent and need to do more to get people to see value in one another's religion.

Tang Li

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2016, with the headline 'Move beyond tolerance towards appreciating different faiths'. Print Edition | Subscribe