Underlying intolerance is the tendency to reject others’ values and/or to impose values on one another. This tendency persists in spite of growing dialogue on diversity, gender equality, the global equity imperative, and the increasing ease of real and virtual communication in the 21st century. Cases of intolerance and related violence and extremism are often accompanied by discrimination by gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, culture, and race.
The global lexicon and dialogue on addressing intolerance, violence, and extremism have focused more on diversity than on similarities. While efforts to acknowledge and celebrate our differences are critical, they remain incomplete: we cannot fully appreciate our differences unless we recognize and embrace our common humanity. When education systems integrate our universal values in the curriculum and children learn to recognize cultural differences as diverse manifestations of our universal values and shared humanity, violent extremism is bound to reduce its appeal, and building more tolerant societies will become a practical possibility.