Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. He received nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906 and for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902, and 1909; the fact that he never won is a major controversy. Tolstoy is best known for his two longest works, War and Peace (1865–69) and Anna Karenina (1875–77), which are commonly regarded as among the finest novels. Leo posited; “An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the chief harm of arrogance. It interferes with a person’s main task in life – becoming a better person.”
Following the successful publication of “Anna Karenina” in the 1870s, Tolstoy, increasingly uncomfortable with his aristocratic background and ever-increasing wealth, underwent a series of emotional and spiritual crises that ultimately left him questioning his belief in the tenets of organized religion, which he saw as corrupt and at odds with his interpretation of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Tolstoy’s rejection of religious rituals—and his attacks on the role of the state and the concept of property rights—put him on a collision course with Russia’s two most powerful entities. Despite his aristocratic lineage, the czarist government put him under police surveillance, and the Russian Orthodox Church excommunicated him in 1901.
In recent years, armed conflicts with religious overtones in countries like the Central African Republic (CAR), Mali, Nigeria and Somalia have been on the rise in sub-Saharan Africa. One possible explanation of this rise is religious intolerance, extremism and exuberance. Nigeria is synonymous with deep divisions which cause major political issues to be vigorously and violently contested along the lines of intricate ethnic, religious and regional divisions. Issues that raise the most dust are those regarded essential for the existence and the validity of the state. Sadly, people who are politically and intellectually bankrupt normally seek refuge in ethnicity and religion as their major factor of defence.
Unfortunately, opposing and contending assemblages have a tendency to assume a very dangerous dimensions – recent studies on religious identity have also underscored the positive function of religion in promotion of peace. On the other hand, however, mobilisation of identity has been used to incite political groups to struggle and religious groups to legitimize wars and various modes of brutal and violent acts – this article seeks to encourage Nigerians to eschew ethno-religious sentiments and resolve to embrace national cohesion, stability, peace, and unity as much as possible.
Nigeria has over 400 ethnic groups, which ordinarily should amplify its rich culture but the reverse seems to be the case. These groups are broken down between religious, language, and tribal lines. These divisions existed ever since but were further broken down at independence to a multi-ethnic nation state. With the divisions, the nation has been battling with the problem of ethnicity on the one hand, and the problem of ethno-religious conflicts on the other, as has been witnessed severally when ethnicity and religious intolerance lead to ethno-religious conflicts.
The Social and Economic Impact of Religious Intolerance. Intolerance is an unwillingness to accept views, beliefs or behaviour that differs from one person to another. In simple words, intolerance is just something by which a person is not capable of handling the situation, words or any type of conduct which is against him or her. In one of my recent article published in local and international media. “DELUSION OF GRANDEUR” we sought to understand the psychological consequences of experiencing religious-based prejudice. Specifically, we wanted to understand how people react, emotionally and behaviorally, when they feel attacked because of their religion. Social psychologists have been interested in religion and its role in fueling intergroup conflict for many years.
Bearing in mind the mood of the nation and considering that the promotion and protection of the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and minorities contribution to the political and social stability of our beloved country Nigeria is a collective responsibility. I, therefore, once again appeal to the consciences of our citizens and particularly, the faith based leaders. Let us rebuild our nation and sheathe the sword. God bless Nigeria.
ARISE ‘O Compatriots
Richard Odusanya is a Social Reform Crusader and the convener of AFRICA COVENANT RESCUE INITIATIVE ACRI.