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The march towards human dignity

Work in progress: Martin Luther King recognised America was only a step

The conversation about the long march for human dignity will cross many borders of thought. Depending, of course, on how one defines a human, or what is the criterion of being a human, will set the parameter of any debate on the subject. For ease of argument, I am going take the short route of recent human history that has seen episodes over the past couple of thousand years.

We have always been fascinated by great illuminated human beings, whether they were entirely real, as narrated by legend or a product of fiction, where the mind has assembled the kinds of characters that we believe we should be.

The ultimate invariably aims at the ideal of a free soul who is true, filled with compassion and empathy, and willing to stand and fight for justice — even if it is for only one soul. In other words, the ideal is not of a conformist; if anything, the ideal resembles more an anarchist.

Society, on the other hand, is moving from a state of near absolute conformity, whether religious or tribal, venturing out towards monarchies and dynasties, where people have wrestled for centuries to gain some semblance of rights within a construct that denied individual liberty and enforced obedience to the order or the state.

Even having in many places modern democracies, the behavioural tendencies are so well rehearsed or ingrained that they follow predictable patterns and remain within norms.

So how can we have both the human ideal of absolute freedom and an orderly society? Particularly, when they are not just coming from opposite arenas but are indeed antithetical?

The great compromise is supposed to be an enlightened democracy in which your individuality and talents are enshrined as an inalienable right; where the pursuit of happiness and the hope of living and fulfilling one’s potential are rights.

Well, that’s a mouthful, and when we consider the march began against the household of a church, then a monarchy, some would say let’s just be happy we can show up in a parliament.

The question asked is, where should the march end?

OK, let’s add some more wood to the fire for those whose argument is they were enslaved for 400 years and deprived of freedom.

Should your journey end in the middle of the road or should it go towards the very end?

The American Revolution was only one step along the road. I recall one of the speeches of Martin Luther King: “One day this country will live out the true meaning of its creed”.

Even he recognised that America was only a step and work in progress.

So the question that is crackling is, where are we as Bermuda in the continuum of “human” and political evolution? Where do we want to be? Or do you think we have arrived?