5 th Berlin-WG "Limits of Tolerance"
The fifth Berlin-WG took place on 21 January 2020 in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg.
Berlin is the city of the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification - and is thus considered throughout the world to be a place of freedom and, with its many nations in the city, also a place of diversity. But many Berliners themselves feel increasingly overwhelmed by life in Berlin. Some people set themselves apart, others are afraid of repression. Against this background, can Berlin still credibly present itself as a city of tolerance? Or have we now reached the limits of tolerance in Berlin? This was discussed by seven participants at the Berlin-WG on 21 January in Prenzlauer Berg.
Our WG on 21 January was very sporty this time and was filled with six native Berliners:
- Marco, 32, event manager and photographer from Reinickendorf South, says
"We must be careful not to retreat to our perspective in everyday life. Cyclists versus motorists - this is a form of everyday intolerance."
- Meike, 54, born in Thuringia, has been living in Berlin-Kaulsdorf for 33 years. She works for the pension insurance company in Kaulsdorf:
"The other day I read that an elderly gentleman sued a daycare center because of 'children's noise'. The man went through all the instances - and ultimately lost. I have no tolerance for such an intolerant attitude."
- Henning, 37, attorney, family man, volleyball referee and chairman of Füchse Berlin-Reinickendorf
"My limit for tolerance is reached where my children are endangered by the behavior of others."
- Daniel, 42, spokesman for the Eisbären Berlin from Pankow, says:
"Sport is a good way to live and practice tolerance."
- Nikolaus, 52, gym teacher in welcome classes from Pankow:
"Sport connects people and is a great way for newcomers to make new friends."
- Jana from the "EISBÄREN fan project for more tolerance" says:
"Tolerance is diversity; for example, when many different people in the fan base share a fever for the EISBÄREN (polar bears)."
- Serena, 19, student and athlete for short sprint from Lichtenrade, says:
"Tolerance plays a role not only in sports, but in our daily life together, for example towards people with a different skin colour or sexuality."
What was discussed at the WG table?
At the beginning, the discussion focused on the concept of "tolerance": What does tolerance mean today? Where can it be felt in everyday life? And immediately the seven participants, led by moderator Joab Nist from the blog "Notes of Berlin", were right in the middle of the question of whether the limits of tolerance have already been reached.
For Meike this is already the case when on her morning commute to work a transsexual woman with 1.85m "is stared at by everyone because she is so tall and obviously used to be a man". With concern Meike observes how the woman reaps downright "angry looks for her otherness. "I myself have the same opinion of Old Fritz: 'Each to his own size.'" In her opinion, more people could do that.
For Daniel of the Polar Bears, tolerance in sport plays an important role. Particularly in the major spectator sports, football and ice hockey, referees are often reviled by spectators for their decisions. "Referees are often welcome objects of abreaction. But tolerance is something you can - and must - practice!"
Welcome Teacher Nik's focus on the topic of tolerance is primarily on the values we have achieved. For him, the refugee issue is a good example of this: the welcome culture was great in the beginning, then some citizens felt alienated. "But we must not close our minds too quickly and not just reflect on ourselves. We must work constantly on an open and tolerant attitude."
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Has tolerance thus developed into a negative in recent years?
This cannot be generalised, the panel agreed.
In some neighbourhoods in Berlin, cohesion is stronger, reports Marco. Where multi-cultural coexistence is cultivated through street festivals, people are also more tolerant. However, some in the group are concerned about the growth on the right edge of the social spectrum. Here, some people at the table reach their limits when someone in their circle of friends or acquaintances professes extreme right-wing positions. "We must accept the opinions of others. But we should not tolerate intolerance," Daniel sums it up.
Insults from athletes because of their skin colour or sexist remarks from bosses - there the border of tolerance is far exceeded, thinks Marco. In such cases, everyone must be empathetic towards those who are discriminated against and have a de-escalating effect. "Twenty or thirty years ago, an outing was still a no-go," remembers Jana. Especially in some sports. "Today it's much better."
So things have got better in Berlin after all?
"In athletics, definitely," Serena thinks. The sexuality, skin color, or religion of fellow athletes wouldn't make a difference.
But Berlin is growing, and that means more people in the same place. The tone in traffic has become rougher. In addition, technological developments such as the new e-scooters demand a lot of tolerance from many a person when smirking tourists on their e-scooters barely pass by.
At the end of the 90-minute discussion, the panel takes stock:
The bottom line is that Berlin has become much more open over the past 30 years, Nik believes, and sees the roots of this in the reunification. For this very reason, it is good for every Berliner to stand up for diversity and tolerance. It is the identity of this city. Live and let live.
"But you should never be indifferent to other people," says Jana, who would intervene immediately if fringe groups were attacked in her presence.
The round is reminded of the famous quote by Karl Jaspers: "Indifference is the mildest form of intolerance."
Sport in particular is suitable for living tolerance as a value; to treat each other fairly, not to shower the loser with malice, is Daniel's opinion, and with his quote he probably puts the best closing words of the evening:
"In the end, solidarity means a better life for everyone."