Museum of Tolerance: Campaigning for a Live-and-Let-Live World

Open MindedLocated in Los Angeles, California, the Museum of Tolerance (MOT) is one of the most unique establishments of its kind in the whole world. As an educational entity dedicated to the examination of racism and prejudice amongst the human race, it is also closely allied with the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the celebration of Jewish human rights. Opened in 1993 for a cost of $50 million, the main exhibit focuses on the tragedy and history of the Jewish Holocaust, but it also places great emphasis on the general concerns of human rights throughout our global society – including the closely associated issues of bullying and hate crimes. The overall educational goal is to challenge each and every visitor to confront prejudice, ethnic narrow-mindedness, and inhumanity while also promoting worldwide racial and cultural tolerance. Since its inception, the museum has hosted over 4 million guests from every corner of the globe, including Jordan’s King Hussein and the Dalai Lama. The message is intended to be universal in nature, because it “is not a Jewish museum — it’s an academy that broadly campaigns for a live-and-let-live world.” In recognition of its dedication to peace and intercultural dialogue, the Museum of Tolerance has been the recipient of the Global Peace and Tolerance Award from the Friends of the United Nations. The success of the MOT in Los Angeles has led to the establishment of similar entities in New York City and Jerusalem.

Wiesenthal Center

The Museum of ToleranceI Is Part of the Simon Wiesenthal Center
Photo credit: Smart Destinations / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Since the concept of tolerance is a very abstract ideal to communicate through display, most of the exhibits in the museum are very high tech and interactive in their delivery, with the intention of touching the heart and mind in dynamic fashion. One of the most distressing and heartrending sections of the museum is the area actually dedicated to the Holocaust, which includes film clips depicting actual deportation scenes and simulated concentration camps. Upon entering this area, each visitor is issued a “passport” imprinted with the name of a child whose life was dramatically altered by the Nazi regime that governed Germany in the 1930s and during World War II. The fate of each child represented on the simulated passports becomes evident as the visitors make their way through the exhibit, which also presents an outdoor Berlin Café of the 1930s, Simon Wiesenthal’s office, and a “Hall of Testimony” dedicated to the courage and sacrifice of Holocaust victims and survivors. In another area of the museum, the Tolerancenter features a 1950s diner with video jukeboxes that “serve” an interactive menu of scenarios on subjects such as bullying, drunk driving, and hate speech – with ability for the visitors to vote their opinions and question the main characters in the vignettes. The “Millennium Machine” is another facet of the Tolerancenter that confronts the worldwide need to end human rights abuses, including the threat of terrorism. A “time machine” not only presents various forms of intolerance, but also engages the visitor to find the solutions – thereby indicating that humans might create the problems, but they also have the potential ability to prevent them.

Other facets of the museum addressing the advancement of tolerance in the world seem endless, but here is a smidgen of the possibilities. A state-of-the-art video with 16 screens presents a “Civil Rights Exhibit” – an archival documentary chronicling the struggle for civil rights in America. Inspired by actual ongoing research conducted by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, GlobalHate.com is an area of the museum sporting touch screen computer terminals that expose the alarming escalation of hate on the internet. Another gripping film entitled “In Our Time” speaks of present-day hate groups throughout the world in places such as Rwanda and Bosnia, where intolerance, human rights violations, and hatred have led to tragic consequences involving genocide similar to the Holocaust. “Finding Our Families, Finding Ourselves,” the most recent “multimedia immersive addition” to the museum, is a celebration of the plurality in ethnic backgrounds that make up the rich fabric of American society. A special exhibit entitled “Para Todos Los Ninos” (For All The Children) traces the history of discrimination in California against all non-White citizens, including those of Mexican descent.

Diversity

The Museum of Tolerance Strongly Supports Multiculturalism
Photo credit: theloushe / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

So, just how integral to ending the scourge of terrorism is the concept of tolerance? In answer to such a question, the relationship is huge, because intransigence in thought and belief lies at the very heart of terroristic violence. In a world ruled by intolerance, narrow-mindedness stands supreme – meaning that differences in religion, wardrobe, personal opinion, cultural protocol, body language, and verbal accent become points of extreme difference that can lead to hatred and violence. In such a state of affairs, concern over the differences that separate one culture from another become an obsession in which there is a lack of respect for the basic commonalities that bind us together as humans, leading to a tragic breakdown in empathy and respect for the qualities that make each culture unique. Fostering the level of tolerance in the world would go far in lessening the prevalence of cultural tension, hatred, terrorism, and war. As stated by the present Chairman of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace, Frederico Mayor Zaragoza, let us educate for tolerance in our schools and communities, in our homes and workplaces and, most of all, in our hearts and minds.” All the more reason for the establishment of a monument such as the one sponsored by this web site. Please join us and sign the petition by clicking on the link below.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.

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Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park: A Haunting Message Concerning the Survival of Humankind

crane  On August 6, 1945, three B-29 aircraft made their way over the Japanese port city of Hiroshima, dropping an atomic weapon named “Little Boy” that lethally claimed between 90,000 and 166,000 lives. Three days later, a second explosion codenamed “Fat Man” occurred over the city of Nagasaki, taking an additional 60,000 to 80,000 lives – thereby expending the complete arsenal of atomic ordnance available to the United States at the time, although a third bomb could have hastily been constructed for a third mission. The results of these explosions are horrific and stand as a warning to the modern world of what could happen should terrorists ever achieve the capability of detonating such a device in a major metropolitan area. Such an eventuality would make the events of 911 pale in comparison, in that way making terrorism one of the gravest threats to the survival of the human race. In deep recognition of this menace, the city of Hiroshima has unswervingly promoted and maintained the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park since 1950 – gradually adding to its meaningful symbolism as the years have unfolded and moved forward. Hiroshima is also one of the most vocal proponents of world peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

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The A-Bomb Dome

Situated at the location of what was once the city’s busiest downtown commercial area, the park consists of various memorials, museums and educational lecture halls – sprawled over the open field that was created by the atomic explosion itself. At the very center of the park is the Memorial Cenotaph, honoring the names of those known to have perished in the 1945 blast and bearing the nonpolitical epitaph “please rest in peace, for we will never repeat this evil again.” Not far from this epitaph, an eternal flame has burned since 1964, with no intention of extinguishment until all nuclear weapons in the world have been destroyed and the threat of nuclear warfare has vanished from human history. Another building that has taken on aspects of sacredness and transcendent spirituality to the citizens of Japan is the A-Bomb Dome, which was situated at the epicenter of the blast and still stands as a haunting ruin and reminder of the bomb’s impact on Japanese culture. In 1966, the city of Hiroshima adopted the resolution that the dome, also known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, should stand in its ruined state for eternity – as a reminder to the world of nuclear war’s potential impact on the future of the human race. Those wishing further education on the atomic bomb – and its destruction of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 – can visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which routinely makes a point of protesting recent nuclear explosions by resetting the Museum’s Peace Watchtower to zero – as an indication that nuclear warfare is still very prevalent in the thoughts and actions of humankind.

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The Children’s Peace Monument

Of poignant clarity to the deep philosophical message surrounding the park is the Children’s Peace Monument, which was dedicated in 1958 to the memory of Sadako Sasaki – a Japanese girl who contracted and died of leukemia as a result of the atomic blast. Sadako is remembered worldwide for her “thousand paper cranes,” and her story is immortalized in the bestselling book entitled Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. In Japanese culture, the crane is a symbol of happiness and longevity – and many say that the gods will grant a wish to any person that folds a thousand origami cranes. Although Sadako was only able to fold 644 paper cranes before she died at the age of 11 from leukemia she contracted due to the atomic blast, her classmates took it upon themselves to fashion the remainder, with which she was lovingly buried. Funded through donations made by Japanese school children, the Children’s Peace Memorial features an elevated statue of Sadako Sasaki clutching a golden crane above her head. Inspired by her story, school children from around the world send millions of paper cranes to the monument each year, and they are prominently placed on display nearby as testimony to Sadako’s timeless popularity.

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The Hiroshima Peace Bell

Every year on August 6, the citizens of Hiroshima recognize the anniversary of the atomic bombing with the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, which takes place in front of the Memorial Cenotaph as an effort to appease the souls of those that died in the blast and to promote the abolition of nuclear weapons. At exactly 8:15am (the time of the explosion in 1945), school children and a representative of bereaved families call the world to a moment of silent meditation by ring the “Peace Bell.” The ceremony also includes a yearly Peace Declaration from the Mayor of Hiroshima, calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons and world peace – as well as the release of doves into the air and a commitment to peace by all the children of Hiroshima. A similar ceremony occurs on a yearly basis three days later in Nagasaki, as recognition of the explosion that took place over that city on August 9, 1945.

The threat of terrorists using a crude nuclear device is a very real possibility in the world today. In fact, such threats have been levied against countries like the United States since as early as 1987 – and the International Task Force on Prevention of Nuclear Terrorism issued a warning in 1986 that the “probability of nuclear terrorism is increasing.” Such concerns today would likely involve the use of “dirty bombs” or attacks on nuclear power facilities. Hence, the prayers offered at Hiroshima and Nagasaki on a yearly basis are indeed for the benefit of the human race. Be sure to view either of the very moving videos below, taken by 2 visitors to the park. The second is shorter than the first. As always, please sign the petition to which this website is dedicated by clicking on the following link.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.

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