by Ricky Martin
As a human rights activist for many years, I've been able to witness countless miracles. I've seen the amazing capacity that human beings have to heal; I've seen governments and private citizens try to change public policies and fight battles of love that have resulted in a positive impact on our society. I've seen boys and girls from different parts of the world free themselves from the bondage of human trafficking (the slavery of the new era) and amazing people renounce their "lives of luxury" to help those who need it most. Witnessing miracles of all kinds has strengthened the faith in humanity that my parents instilled in me, which is the same faith that I try to pass on to my children every day. When I watch them discovering the world, I think kindness is one of the greatest virtues that I can teach them.
On the other hand, I've also seen insufferable things that have made it impossible for me to hold on to the naiveté that I had as a child and have always tried to maintain it. Traveling the world from an early age and witnessing unimaginable crimes against humanity has stolen part of the innocence that I had as a young boy. There were many moments when I forgot about the child that lives inside of me. You know, that child that we all have within and who constantly reminds us to focus on the beauty of "simplicity". But that moment of disconnection was many years ago, and thanks to the work that I do with my foundation as a part of my daily life, I'm fortunate enough to say that I have reconnected with that inner child and continue to learn from him. One of the most important things I have learned is to SHOUT to the world when I encounter injustice, and that is why I am writing today.
I try to walk through life with a positive outlook. I do all I can to keep a grateful and optimistic attitude. Call me a romantic, an idealist, or maybe someone who's just not realistic. Maybe it's a defense mechanism or maybe it's just that I'm someone who wants to change the chain of negative thoughts that have been fed to us in many ways and which can easily poison the soul. We are all human and sometimes it's easier to ignore the pain and go on with our day. "That has nothing to do with us," we may say; "Why should we care?" But today, I feel that's impossible. It does have to do with us. I do care.
In the past few weeks, I've read many articles that have made me shudder and unfortunately the articles relate to things that are happening every day around the world. I find it almost impossible to believe that in the year 2009, we're struggling with such hateful situations.
As a defender of human rights, my goal is to find solutions for the injustices that exist in the world today. I am speaking about discrimination of any kind, whether it is because of race, gender, nationality, religion, ethnicity, handicap, sexual orientation or political affiliation.
SO I SHOUT: WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THE WORLD TODAY?
I'm sure you all have different answers. But at the end of the day, it seems that the collective response usually comes back to one thing: "WE WANT PEACE"
Well, when we believe in peace, there is simply no room for complacency. The murders of James Byrd, Matthew Shepard, Jorge Steven Lopez, Marcelo Lucero, Luis Ramirez and countless others who were victims of violent "hate crimes" should be completely unacceptable to every human being; because we're all human beings. It's up to us to change the paradigm. I hear the world "tolerance" thrown around in the media when it comes to cases like the ones I mentioned above. One of the meanings of tolerance is "the capacity to endure pain or hardship." Another is "the act of allowing something." To me, those don't seem to encompass acceptance, by any definition. So how about this? Instead of saying "we need to tolerate diversity" why not say, "we need to accept diversity."
Accepting diversity is the first and most important step we can take towards eliminating hate crimes and uniting humanity.
If we ACCEPT, humanity unites. If humanity unites, equal human rights will become a reality. And if equal human rights become a reality, peace will be within our reach.