Freedom and Dignity: Forward and Back

A head of state, President Obama, addresses the United Nations General Assembly about the promise of universal freedom and dignity for everyone, and for the first time by a head of state at such an occasion, explicitly mentions gays and lesbians. Realizing the universal claim of humankind on freedom and dignity is a promise that is within our means and within our grasp for the first time in history.

And here is someone who was not a head of state who had a deeply personal investment in that promise of freedom and dignity, Jamey Rodemeyer of Buffalo, New York.

He died Sunday by suicide after the bullying got worse at his school after he made this video.

There are many around the world who believe that Jamey and his family are but a small price to pay for a purer simpler world for those who claim dominion over it.

So, what kind of world do you want to live in?

Do you want a world where everyone, including people like Jamey, can lay their claim upon it and make their own lives in peace?

Or, do you want a world reshaped and purified according to some ideological or doctrinal template where only those who fit perfectly have any real claim upon the world, and others are simply expendable, others like Jamey?

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor -- anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called “new order” of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

To that new order we oppose the greater conception -- the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.

--President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, January 6, 1941