Each person shares human dignity with others and therefore all equal rights before the law. That means that no physical or cultural difference can justify any limitations to that equality. In other words, equal rights before the law guarantee the right to be and to think differently.
However, the widespread acceptance of this idea is fairly recent in relation to the thousands of years of human history. Even after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and the covenants and conventions that ensure its validity today, we still see many situations in which the physical, cultural and ideological interests of some individuals are used to deny the equal rights of others. In all cases, these situations have been the result of the imposition of some kind of power – economic, political or ideological – of one group of people over another. There is also the assumption by those who are denying the rights that the targeted group is somehow “inferior” and less deserving because of it.
Today, in commemorating the life of Martin Luther King Jr., let us remember his lifelong devotion to the struggle of African-Americans for equality. Let us remember the violence that he and many others suffered and the discrimination that many still feel today. And let us recommit ourselves to fight for the dream that cost him his life.
Let the bell of freedom ring as the hands of all the men and women of the world unite fraternally.