When we are young, we make mistakes. We are told that as we get older, we will learn from those mistakes. Then, when we ARE older, we guide the younger people on how to not make the same mistakes. And the cycle continues.
The main component to our individuality is our brain. The fact that we have intelligence and the gift of creative thinking sets us apart from most mammals. As a species we have definitely come a long way. We have learned to use tools, make fire, invent the wheel, speak over 6,500 languages, and even walk in space.
When you think about Evolution and the history of mankind, it kind of starts to feel like a big experiment.
That is not to say that we haven’t struggled in the fight to get here. We were given intelligence and the capability of creative thinking for a reason. But with intelligence comes Ego. With Ego comes opinions. And opinions will ultimately lead to opposition. There have been battles through history of people trying to figure out what is ‘right and wrong’. Fighting and killing each other over it.
But maybe that is all just part of the experiment. To see if we can come together and unify for the sake of humanity and stop fighting one day. There have definitely been a significant amount of people fighting for Peace and Equality throughout history. And the next generation has arrived.
Let’s take a look at some brave souls that have fought for our human rights, and also the ones that are still fighting the good fight.
Most people remember Gandhi from organizing the Great Salt March in India. A 250-mile march protesting against the British Salt Tax and mining. Even though he may have looked poor, he actually started out as a well-educated lawyer. He traveled to South Africa in 1893 to represent an Indian merchant in a lawsuit and ended up staying there for 21 years and starting a family. South Africa is where Mathatma’s first nonviolent resistance campaign happened for civil rights. And although he fought for many humanitarian ideals, but was best known for advocating for India’s independence from British rule.
It is interesting that Gandhi left South Africa in 1914 and four years later Nelson Mandela was born in 1918. Almost like a tag team. Of course, Mandela wouldn’t become an activist until nearly 25 years later. But once he committed, he went full throttle. Mandela was committed to overthrowing the National Party’s ‘white-only’ government and ending apartheid. He led several campaigns, non-violent protests, and was repeatedly arrested for treason. In 1961, he led a sabotage campaign against the government and was ultimately sentenced to life in prison. After serving 27, the then-President F.W. de Klerk released Mandela for fear of a civil race war. In 1994 Klerk and Mandela teamed up together to finally end apartheid and held the first multi-race election, of which Mandela won the Presidency.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
While Nelson Mandela was fighting to end apartheid in South Africa, Dr. Martin Luter King Jr. was also activating to end segregation, poverty and the Vietnam war over in the United States. King was directly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and his Christian beliefs. He carried out his activism in a non-violent manner and in 1963 led the March on Washington, where he gave his immortal ‘I have a dream’ speech. King did a lot for civil rights in his 11 years in office, but in true U.S. fashion, the government wasn’t having it. Then-President J. Edgar Hoover considered King a radical threat and started surveilling, infiltrating, and discrediting his life. They investigated King for possible Communist ties, and recorded and reported his extramarital relations to the government. King was even sent an anonymous letter trying to convince him to commit suicide. Corruption much?
“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.”
Gloria Steinem is a journalist that has been very active in fighting for Women’s and civil rights since the 1960s. In 1963, she went undercover as a Playboy Bunny and wrote an extensive article on how the women were mistreated. This greatly affected her reputation as a journalist, because people had a hard time taking her seriously now that she had a title of being a ‘bunny’. She was also very active against the Vietnam War in the 1970s, the Gulf War in the 90s, and has been advocating for civil rights to this day. Steinem has always been very active in the U.S. political elections and is still advocating for LGBTTQQIAAP (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pan sexual) equality.
Carl Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologer, and astrobiologist. He loved the Earth just as much as he loved space. With extensive research, findings, and theories, he was a believer that there must be other intelligence within earshot of our galaxy. In the 1970s he was outspoken against the Vietnam War and was arrested for protesting against nuclear testing. He was very aware that fossil fuels were saturating our atmosphere with CO2 and creating greenhouse gasses, global warming and climate change- before these were common terms and anyone would even think twice about it. His life was dedicated to his love for nature, science and humanity.
Greta is a Swedish environmental activist that has gained worldwide recognition in the past year for her fight against climate change. And no, she is not an actor or a pawn. Thunberg first learned of global warming at age 8 and wondered why nobody was doing anything about it. She started making a stance at home to reduce her carbon footprint by becoming a vegan, up cycling, and not flying on airplanes anymore. After about 2 years she saw her family making sacrifices and permanent habitual changes. Thunberg thought maybe she could change more people’s views and habits, so she started skipping school in 2018 to protest outside of Swedish Parliament. She took it upon herself to miss school, not her parents, although they were supportive of her happiness. Greta sat out on the stoop holding a sign that read ‘Skolstrejk for Klimatet’ translated to ‘School strike for the Climate’. At the age of 16, she is now a global activist and is traveling the world to take part in school strikes everywhere. Fridays for the Future is a movement worldwide. Participation is encouraged.
Needless to say, we could all take a page from each one of these brave people’s books. We are products of our surroundings. We can’t choose where or who we came from. It is hard to change our views on something that is literally ingrained in our moral compass. But if you can be open-minded and see the beautiful nature and people that make up our amazing planet, the answer is simple. Be Nice. Be nice to people and have respect for everything. There is always something a little more that we could be doing.