Human Rights Day: “Localizing” Compassion

There was so much happening in Kingston today for Human Rights Day. I could only manage to participate in one or two events, but I take it as a good sign that there was so much recognition of the day. Awareness is starting to grow… 

I will try to post some photographs at some point, but meanwhile I just wanted to share a few words that I spoke earlier this evening, when welcoming guests to the LGBT rights organization J-FLAG’s sixteenth birthday party. Yes, J-FLAG was born on Human Rights Day. I am proud to be a board member. 

Dear friends, colleagues and supporters: Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. We are sixteen years old today.

There were two winners of the Nobel Peace Prize today, on Human Rights Day. One is almost a household name – and the youngest ever winner, Malala Yousufzai. The other is not so well known. His name is Kailash Satyarthi, the 60-year-old Indian child rights campaigner. And by the way, both prize-winners truly suffered for their cause.

In his acceptance speech today, Mr. Satyarthi spoke about compassion: “There is one serious disconnect and that is the lack of compassion.” He said it needed to be globalized. But first we need to localize it, right here in Jamaica.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is also very fond of this concept. “Because we all share an identical need for love, it is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister..There is no significant division between us and other people.”

The Dalai Lama also says: “True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Therefore, a truly compassionate attitude towards others does not change even if they behave negatively.”

I believe this is what Bob Marley was talking about when he wrote “One Love.” Love is a rather over-worked word, and I think Bob went beyond that to describe compassion. The song is much more than a happy singalong song about a vague concept of “love.” It is a call to action.

So, this evening let us commit to compassion. And most importantly, let us practice it and urge others to do so. It may be contagious!

We have come a long way, and there are many more miles to go.

I wish J-FLAG a happy “sweet sixteen” and invite you to enjoy the evening!

Thank you.


By the way, you can read the special Human Rights Day edition of J-FLAG’s newsletter here:   (I hope the link works!)




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