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Tolerance

/ 01:52 AM April 30, 2015

I watched a movie, a truly wonderful movie, for the second time. But it’s not the movie, it’s the story—a true story of a man who saved 14 million lives, shortened a world war by two years, and changed the world in a way no one else ever has.

And he was persecuted into committing suicide at the age of 41. Persecuted through intolerance. Intolerance of people who are different, not of us, so not acceptable.

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It’s the story of Alan Turing who invented what became known as the “Turing machine.” His mathematical genius developed a machine during World War II that broke Germany’s codes, their enigma machine. Thus, the British were able to predict what Germany would do, and thwart it. That’s what saved those 14 million people and shortened the war.

And the Turing machine? That was the world’s first computer. It was Alan Turing that gave us this miraculous technological world we live in today.

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So why did he commit suicide? Because he was different at a time in the world that wouldn’t accept it. He was a homosexual (“gay” was a word of joy then), and homosexuality was a crime. He was exposed, and couldn’t live with it. One of the greatest geniuses of our time, a man who changed the world for the better, and the world killed him.

The British Queen gave him a royal pardon in 2013, but he was dead.

It’s time we accepted the differences of people, not just of gays, and learned to live together. Too many of the wars of today are wars of intolerance.

A special place, special law, special condition for those with a different religion should not be necessary. We shouldn’t need an Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or a Bangsamoro, or anything else. We should live in understanding of each other, and allow others to do as they wish as long as it does not physically hurt us. If it mentally does, then we should change our mindset.

The more I think about it, the more I think a special environment for our Muslim friends should not be necessary. I raised it in my column on March 5 (“Why not live together?”) when I talked about Sierra Leone, where they do live happily together.

Why can’t we do that here? The right to Sharia law for Muslims between Muslims already exists. The right of Muslim schools to teach the Muslim religion is already permitted.

We’re being forced into a separation we really shouldn’t have, by some hotheads with guns. In opposition to the good Turing did is the evil done by whoever invented the gun. Its invention has brought so much death and violence to the world. I can’t think of a single good that guns have done, but I can count in the tens of millions, or is it hundreds of millions, the people whom guns have killed.

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But back to the theme of my thoughts: tolerance, or its obverse, intolerance. What harm has allowing others to privately do as they wish done to the rest of us? None. What harm has being intolerant of others done to us? It has killed many of us. Or made life insufferable for those unfortunate to be on the other side.

It’s why I’ve never understood why Catholic priests here can be so intolerant of others when my learnings of Christ’s teachings are the opposite. He preached tolerance and love for others, not vilifying them or denying them the kind of life they wish. At least that’s what I learned in the church school I went to. Am I wrong?

The bottom line is: Preach what you wish, believe in what you wish, live the life you wish, but don’t impose it on others.

Alan Turing had every right to enjoy the sex life he wished. I wish I were half the genius he was, and have done as much good for the world as he did. Yet intolerance killed him. Alan Turing—a name to remember. Watch the movie “The Imitation Game.” And let’s coexist together.

Mind you, this doesn’t mean I don’t support the Bangsamoro Basic Law. I have to, but only because it’s a practical solution to the reality of where we are today. But it should be recognized as only a first step toward peaceful coexistence with all Muslim communities.

* * *

We were at the 85th birthday celebration of First Philippine Holdings chair emeritus Oscar Lopez last week, a wonderful occasion for a wonderful gentleman. It was a night honoring a man who’s lived a life of service to others.

It raised something I’ve long been disappointed about. We give honor and recognition to those we love and admire—after they die. They never get to hear the eulogy they deserve. The problem, of course, is: At what point in their life do we eulogize them? That’s something that can be worked out. Whatever date is decided, surely this is a nicer thing to do.

Last Monday must have been one of those bad days. I left my money clip on the restaurant table and dropped my cell phone somewhere in Commercenter in Alabang. I went back to the restaurant, Elbert’s; they were holding the money clip for me. My phone? Commercenter security called my wife that a customer had handed it in and they had it. Then an evening at the birthday of a friend turning 95, Meniong Teves. So it was a good day, after all, with some honest people in a new shopping mall making it so.

* * *

This poem was written by the 11-year-old son of a friend of mine, Rosario Bradbury of SGS, when his grandfather died. He wrote it in 5 minutes:

Eighty Years

20 years in life is childhood and teen years

the time you barely have fears

the time you should enjoy forth better

because it won’t last forever

40 years here is when you’re older

the time you’re bolder

the time you get a house

maybe even a spouse

80 years in life is when you retire

because you want to relax by the fire

be healthy because you might fly

into heaven and die

Live life to the fullest

because you could be the best

and remember have fun

every moment til it is done

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TAGS: Alan Turing, First Philippine Holdings, muslims, Oscar Lopez, Turing machine
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