Malappuram (Kerala), Jan 12: Inter-religious dialogue has to be more than mere words and it must include human interaction and relationships, Vice President Hamid Ansari observed on Tuesday while inaugurating an inter-faith conference here.
Ansari said people of different faiths and religious traditions must have mutual understanding and respect that allow them to live together and cooperate in spite of their differences.
"Tolerance is a virtue. It is freedom from bigotry. It is a version of the golden rule, in that, insofar as we want others to treat us decently we need to treat them decently as well," Ansari observed.
"It is also a pragmatic formula for the functioning of society without conflict between different religions, political ideologies, nationalities, ethnic groups or other us-versus-them divisions," the vice president said.
Quoting Swami Vivekananda on his birth anniversary, Ansari added that tolerance alone is not strong enough a foundation for building an inclusive and pluralistic society. It must be coupled with acceptance and understanding.
"You can tolerate something without accepting it, but you cannot accept something without tolerating it," Ansari emphasised.
The vice president noted that India has been home to all the great religions of the world, and that Kerala has had a long tradition of religious pluralism.
"It is a state that has the oldest traditions of Islam and Christianity in India and is known for the relative harmony that exists between the various religious groups," Ansari said.