As I once stated in a human rights speech at Freedom Plaza, “compassion begins with passion.” You cannot show that you truly care about our shared universal human rights, if you cannot show your feelings and passion for your fellow human beings and their challenges. If you are passionate about human rights, then you cannot be “patient” as you watch your brothers and sisters in humanity being persecuted, oppressed, attacked, and murdered.
There is a time and a place for equanimity, patience, and a reserved manner, and there is also a time and a place for a passionate defense of the rights, dignity, and security for our fellow human beings. There is a time when we must provide leadership on the truths we hold self-evident for all.
Our real leaders understand this, because they understand what is at stake by those who deny and attack our shared universal human rights. Our real leaders are not necessarily institutional, political, government leaders or administrators in our nations. We must make certain the voices of real leaders of human rights, dignity, and security are heard, amidst the passive voices that will invariably shrug their shoulders at the challenges to our shared human rights.
Let us be clear – the enemies of our shared universal human rights are never inconsequential to the security of the world. The enemies of our shared universal human rights are always an insidious cancer to the human race whose growth must be aggressively blocked and whose threat must be removed.
Some also believe that our passion for human rights should only apply for selected identity groups that we care about. Universal human rights are universal. The most fundamental value in our shared universal human rights is Equality. This is the truly shared common cause around which we must rally.
So we must also be equally passionate in our human rights defiance to anti-human rights extremists, who believe they can threaten, bully, and commit violence against others in denial of their human rights, because they believe they have superior rights over others. The enemies of our shared universal human rights despise the word “equality.” It is their primary objection to our common cause of shared human rights.
Equality is truly the keystone of the human rights struggle, which holds all of the other causes together as one struggle. The importance of equality in our human rights is forgotten by the apathetic, when they believe we do not need to passionately challenge all of the enemies of human rights.
In the United States of America, we have been blessed with a history that this is not merely just another word in our language.
It is so much more than just another word. It is a desperate whisper. It is a cry against injustice. It is a prayer. It is call to action. It is a shout of defiance. But whatever it may mean to you, to people in America and around the world, Equality is not just another word. Equality is not something we could dispassionately care less about, because it applies to all of us – everywhere – just like our shared universal human rights.
To those who have seen brothers and sisters of every identity stand together in a common cause of our shared universal human rights, they know that without Equality, we cannot have Liberty. They know without Equality and Liberty, we cannot have shared universal human rights.
Of all of our shared universal human rights, Equality is what anti-human rights extremists want to steal away from humanity. As it is the keystone of our shared universal human rights, so it is also the common target of the extremist enemies of human rights. The enemies of human rights don’t simply dislike equality; they hate Equality. They seek to destroy Equality and subjugate people of various identity groups, based on their race, their religion, their nationality, or other identity, and force them to submit to a tyranny.
So when we passionately challenge the enemies of our shared human rights and Equality, we must be prepared to defy all such enemies. Most importantly, we must never allow our passion in defying such enemies of human rights to allow us to become tyrants ourselves. We must always remember our struggle for human rights is for shared human rights for all of humanity.
To those who do not view anti-human rights extremists as a threat to passionately oppose, often they decide that they can choose that only some anti-human rights extremists matter, and that other enemies of human rights do not. This is not a support for our shared universal human rights. We must passionately reject all enemies of human rights, as the common cause of the human race.
In addition, there are also those who believe that people around the world have no choice but to live under a tyranny of those who seek their total submission and denial of their universal human rights. They believe they should surrender to what they believe will not change, and that the best thing to do is simply make the best of the current circumstances. They also believe that it is not worth giving much attention to anti-human extremist groups, because they believe eventually such groups will fail of their own overreaching ambitions, without much reaction by free people.
The people of the world may wonder how some free people can be so dispassionately calculated and cold-hearted about enemies of human rights, especially American free people. America brings a history both of natural defiance against anti-human rights oppression, as well as a deep-seated desire by its immigrants to “start anew” somewhere else and get a “fresh start” at life, and release concerns about “the old world.” Especially between foreign wars, Americans often resort back to a policy of “isolationism” as a response to great sacrifices. Passion is exhausting.
But when we come back to the keystone of human rights — Equality, we then have a different message to those who would watch the oppression of and violence against our fellow human beings with detachment and equanimity.
America did not defeat the tyrants that oppressed them by a dispassionate hope that eventually someday things would change on their own. They stated: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” In America, the weary, the detached, and the dispassionate may find comfort in isolationism from the world and from our societal responsibilities, but we can never be Americans without a zealous commitment to the most important of the truths we hold self-evident — EQUALITY.
Equality is the great motivating force to remind the American people, who and what they are, and why in the great words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
In the exhaustion of the difficult efforts for human rights, it is easy to get discouraged and weary. It is easy to lose hope for change. But I have been blessed in my lifetime with the opportunity to see great things happen. I have been blessed to live in a time in the United States of America, where I have seen American change from a nation where public racial segregation and oppression was openly tolerated in some place to where we have come to an African-American president elected twice. This is what I have seen with my eyes and experienced in my own short lifetime. The struggle for our shared human rights, especially for our sisters in America, is still truly an ongoing battle which is far, far, far from being won. But I can tell you a fact, not an opinion. CHANGE IS POSSIBLE. We CAN positively change the world in support of our shared universal human rights. It is not just wishful thinking. It can be done.
We have seen such human rights CHANGE. I urge the world to remember this history and to act to find ways to promote such change in challenging the current enemies of human rights and equality.
But we did NOT achieve CHANGE by being passive and unconcerned about the actions of anti-human rights extremists. We did not achieve change through dispassionate equanimity to the anti-human rights extremists who sought to subjugate others. We did not change the thinking of a generation by quietly expecting the extremist enemies of human rights would just go away by themselves, and relinquish their stranglehold on the human rights, dignity, and security of the oppressed.
We did not achieve any victories of change by making excuses for and rationalizing away the actions and the ideology of the enemies of human rights.
In achieving the victories of change, we did not retreat to isolationism from human rights. We did not shrug our shoulders at the abuses of the extremists. To the victims of such extremists, we did not only extend our sympathies and prayers, but we also extended our protection as well as our passionate outrage and defiance against the extremist enemies of human rights.
To the enemies of human rights, we not only recognized and defended the rights of others, but also we challenged and rejected the wrongs that extremists applied to our fellow human beings. We did not defend those victimized by the enemies of our human rights through relativist surrender. We judged their actions based on a consistent application of our shared universal human rights for all. This judgment between right and wrong was passionately communicated in every aspect of our society: our leaders, media, schools, houses of worship, institutions, and public gatherings.
In the American national judgment on white supremacism, whether it was by the 100,000 American Union soldiers who died fighting to end it during the Civil War, or it was through the total war of ideas against white supremacism during what is known as the “Civil Rights era,” this judgment against extremists was not a racial attack on white Americans, but it was a total clarion call for change to reject the supremacist views of extremists. But we fearlessly judged what was right and wrong, based on our shared universal human rights for all. As the American people know all too well, that struggle never ends, and such passionate defiance against anti-human rights extremists must never be relaxed.
Most importantly, we were NOT patient, despite the endless pleas for “patience,” “understanding,” “culture,” and “incremental change,” which mostly apologists for white supremacists sought to spread as a countermessage in the “war of ideas” during the “Civil Rights era.” As Americans are all too painfully aware, when it comes to defying the extremist enemies of human rights, patience is not a virtue, but only allows anti-human rights persecution to find new ways and places to arise again and again.
This is the model that I have seen in my life which works to achieve CHANGE in human rights. It is a model that requires a passionate challenge to anti-human rights extremists that are given no excuse, no rationale, no justification, and no escape from the judgment of a society which stands for justice and equally shared universal human rights.
So too in today’s world, as the extremist enemies of human rights seek a total war on our equality, liberty, human rights, human dignity, and security, so we must call for a new clarion call of total defiance of the ideology and actions of today’s enemies of human rights. We must not allow the voices of relativism, defeatism, and cowardice to win the day. If we believe in our shared universal human rights, then we must take the stand that those that seek the destruction of such shared universal human rights bring a common cause to rally all of humanity.
To do so, we need to bring out the greatest agent of human rights to our common defense, the keystone of our shared human rights: EQUALITY. We must call for the EQUAL universal human rights for all people in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and we must defy those enemies of human rights, from any extremist ideology which seeks the persecution and oppression of our brothers and sisters in humanity. Of all of the ideas in the world, the one that the enemies of human rights can least tolerate and accept is equality of human rights. Therefore, such equality of human rights must be the spearhead of our campaign to defy and challenge the extremist causes.
To the extremist calls of terrorism, violence, and subjugation of our fellow human beings, let them know the enemies of human rights know that we will reject, defy, and condemn their ideologies of hatred and violence. As we approach the anniversary this week of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let us passionately and defiantly make a statement to all of the anti-human rights extremist groups — we will not submit, and we will defend our EQUAL universal human rights for all.
We will be passionately Responsible for Equality and Liberty.