I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: All men are created equal. Regardless of the colour of their skin, sexual orientation, special needs, religious beliefs, or country of origin, all women, men and children will be treated with the same respect and dignity! What would Martin Luther King say if he was still alive today? His message is as relevant as it was in 1963. We live in a complex society. Cities are a mosaic of every different religion, culture and orientation. That diversity makes life more interesting; in Toronto, for example, it’s easy to visit China Town, Little Italy, a mosque, synagogue and a church all in one afternoon. But this lifestyle also presents many challenges. Greater tolerance is demanded of every citizen and this can prove to be difficult. How do we balance the needs of the individual with the interests of the community as a whole? Both my sons have special needs. When they were younger, it was a real dilemma to find a school that provided the high academic standard they required as well as accommodated their need for small, nurturing classrooms with a zero tolerance policy towards bullying. They both have Tourette Syndrome, which meant their behaviour was “unusual” and those differences were not readily accepted amongst their peers, especially in high school. Just last week, another student assaulted my younger son on route to school because of his Tics. But the problems my sons experience are only a small part of the bigger picture. Today, people are killing each other over differences in ideology. Women are still fighting for their right to equal pay for equal work. Gays and Lesbians are being prosecuted in some countries. Religious intolerance is creating hatred amongst neighbours. This past weekend, one of my neighbours across the street told me another neighbour said, “You ‘beep-beep’ Jew, no wonder the Palestinians hate you”. And this argument started because one of them was shoveling snow on to the lawn of the other neighbour. It’s hard to believe people can harbor such hatred! Don’t we have plenty of real crises to worry about, such as the needs of the aging population, people without enough food to eat, HIV/AIDS, natural disasters such as the flooding in Australia and the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti? Would Martin Luther King be disappointed if he was still alive today? Personally, I think so. What about you?
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