Striving to be a leader.

To begin to understand why I have decided to strive towards positions of leadership in the concerns of human rights you must first understand who I am and where I came from. I was born with amniotic band syndrome in my left foot. In many eyes as well as my own this disability has never served as a drawback in the strive for all of my accomplishments. I’m a strong advocate in the belief that one can do anything they set their mind to and that nothing should preclude the path way of a human right. This being the same whether you are disabled, in a class system, race, gender, and your sexual orientation. I believe that my qualities in strength, convictions and my ability to think with an open mind and open heart delegates my ability to be right for this position. I have been ridiculed, bullied and been frowned upon by a portion of people who believe that who I am is wrong because I do not perfectly match up with the social norm of what a person should look and act like. However, no amount of hate or fear as has quenched the compassion that I feel for humanity nor the strong hope that I have that one day we will all be seen as equal.

I understand that many before have fought long and hard in this rigorous battle for basic human rights. Our history book might be riddled with people who believe that they are better then others and should thus be seen in a higher light, but it is also full of the ones who proved them wrong. Throughout history mankind has proven that one voice in the midst of an ignorant crowd has the ability to change the world. We have taken enormous strives in creating awareness and a pathway of equality. Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington being among the names of many great men who fought for their freedom and if which had not done so we would not be here today. Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr all stood up for what they believed and sacrificed greatly for their convictions for civil rights and the freedom of equality within the African American race. In 1964 President Johnson signed the civil right act.. On November 4, 2008 our first African American President was elected.  Jane Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Hillary Clinton all fought for the right to be more than just an extension on a man’s arm. Women were once thought of as stupid and inferior to men. Now they have the right to vote, are CEO’s of big corporations and attend university. Harvey Milk spoke loudly for his beliefs in equality for the gay and lesbian community and was assassinated for it. Although we haven’t reached the goal we are hoping for with this battle for equality, we have made milestones in bringing awareness on the pathway towards it.

Despite all of the accomplishments we have achieved in regards to human rights there are still a lot of things that need to be done. Getting beaten up, harassed, ridiculed, discriminated, and oppressed against because of your race, sexual orientation, gender or disability are all violations of a human right. I hope to take the wisdom of all of these great men and women previously mentioned and learn from them. They were all able to put in a piece to the bigger picture of equality all with sheer force of their open minds and compassion for others. Their passion and motivation struck a chord and was contagious for people everywhere. They were somehow able to dampen the fear and get others to rise above the hate and fear for their convictions. Let us now take action and put an end to the fears of oppression and discrimination. Although a lot of things that need to be changed in regard to these right may not directly involve you I believe that is our responsibility to take action. It starts with you. Let homosexuals have the human right to get married, stop the rise of racism that still takes place in the south, make the prices of wages for women the same as men, protect the disabled from being ridiculed and laughed at in society.

Taking a look back in on my own disability I recall that there were a few ignorant voices that attempted to drown out my inner strength. There were those who believed that my disability would effect my ability to walk and live a similar life to other people. One day I woke up. I took a passion for dancing…I would watch movies and ballets and wish that I could do that—they tried to stop me and I didn’t listen. Yes, I had to work twice as hard as everybody else to get to where I wanted to be. I started out with regular classes—and strengthened muscles that other people never had to use. I made modifications for what I didn’t have and worked until I was good enough to be on the actual team. In comparison to the men and women previously mentioned it really isn’t that big of an accomplishment, but its how I relate and understand their purpose for their actions. Sometimes all it takes is a first step, a voice in all of that negativity going against conformity of a social norm and standing up for what you believe in even when everyone else turns their back on what they don’t care to see.

Frankly, I don’t understand how one group who is afraid of change can make such a huge impact on society. I can, however, understand the latter of how an individual or even a small minority can find the strength to stand up for a conviction in regards to equality. Although change can start with a single voice it needs to be carried out with a lot more then that. In my new elected position I tend on doing everything in my power to expand that voice into hundreds and then thousands of others. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best, “these rights begin in the small places close to home—the streets where people live, the schools they attend, the factories, farms and offices where they work.”  The way to do that can start from home, on the street, amongst your peers. “The actions you take amongst these people will determine whether or not human rights will flourish”. It’s about the way you live your life, sticking up for what you believe in and finding the compassion required to reach out to someone who has been backed into a corner of isolation. “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” Start by letting them know that they aren’t alone. Start by letting them know that equality is attainable. Start by letting them know that we are all forces to be reckoned with and that with the right mind set and determination anything is possible. The rest will follow.  It’s in our hands to make that change. The time is now. It starts with you.

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