The value I’ll always hold on to and won’t negotiate is this: the respect for individual human life. Do you agree? Do you also think the life, safety, and freedom of another person is just as valuable as your own?
If you do, we’re on the same page. Nothing else matters. Our skin tones, languages, cultures – our collective identities –, our social statuses might be different, yet we’ll be able to respect one another.
Everything we do to another person follows from this. Through respecting the unfathomable value of their life, we can respect their freedom, their choices and pursuits, their belongings, their differences from us.
If you disagree with me: what is it that makes you think – or hope – that the other is inferior? Their skin tone? Their language? Their gender? Their religion? Their birth and upbringing? The way they choose to love? Their poverty? Their political views? Your fear of them voting for someone else? Your fear of them getting educated and discovering how you deceived them?
If you disagree with me, I have bad news: Your collective identity, your wealth or power can never be more important than the life, safety, and freedom of another person. If you seriously think they are, I will find it difficult to respect your values, and it’s best if we don’t have anything to do with each other.
They say a society that respects freedom is vulnerable, even with all those checks and balances in place – because those who plot to destroy it are also granted the same freedom and power. I’ve seen the truth of this many times, but I’d like to believe it doesn’t have to stay that way.
(Don’t even take those checks and balances for granted. The government in my country, freely elected as it might have been, managed to dismantle them in less than five years.)
Political correctness and the legal defenses against hate speech are benevolent but misguided attempts to protect the underprivileged against verbal harm that could turn physical. Racist and extremist groups – whose members often come from privileged society – reversed it: they abused these very defenses to protect their hate speech from the underprivileged. (Note the negative tone of the Wikipedia article.)
This is how, in my country, the Roma – probably the least privileged part of society – get convicted for hate crimes, while racist groups marching in the midst of them and threatening them remain untouched. This is how certain lifestyles – including same-sex marriage, to relate to the news of the day – get banned and prosecuted because allegedly, they offend the princliples of a religious group or another.
I think we can draw a very firm line here: either you acknowledge the value of another person – simply because they’re human –, or you don’t. If you allow your identity, wealth, and power to get in the way of respecting another’s life, don’t expect me to tolerate it.
I’m repeating myself, and I’m getting tired of it. But this line is crossed every day, all over the world. Judges in the US Supreme Court pass judgment over homosexuals (see the dissent opinions). The government of my country erects billboards threatening refugees, and fences to shut them out, already sparking anti-refugee atrocities. Harmless tourists and worshippers are bombed and gunned down in the name of the caliphate. It’s time to stand up, really. It’s a war against evil – don’t let it win.