Roch Longueépée

Remarks on the Occasion of the United Nations 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

delivered December 1998, Grand Parade Square, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

In-Studio Audio AR-XE Reading


[Text submitted by Mr. Longueépée]

On this day we celebrate the great distance we have come in this country and yet there is a great distance to go. We are only half way to our goal while others in this country are without purpose, dignity and decency of work. A country where people feel powerless to change their place or to make a better one for their children. This is the breaking of spirit denying them the chance to stand as fathers and mothers among other men and women in our country.

What this country needs now is a new hope...a renewed faith in work. Jobs with dignity, self reliance and integrity of family. When the rights of one are denied all are endangered. Our commitment now must lie in our decision to be stronger than our condition. In understanding what unites us, rather than what separates us from one another. Albert Camus once wrote that truth needs witnesses and testimony. This will come with slow deliberation of time and a temperance of spirit. The struggles of the past are still with us today. They define the reasons why we are gathered here. We cannot forget the profound effects the condition of an individual has on the will of the community. The community itself is not the greatest asset, but rather its individuals are. The greatest challenge we now face is the violence of institution indifference, inaction and slow decay. The salvation of our community and programs lie in terms of each individual. Responsibility is the price we must all pay for freedom.

Too often much energy has been spent on finding freedom from responsibility. It is now time to spend those energies on being responsible to gain freedom. If we insist on being free from the burdens of life we will cease to be free at all. Our journey will begin when we can admit the vanities of our false distinctions among each other, and learning to find advancement in the search for the advancement of others. In the past, institutions which affect the poor have planned programs for the poor not with them.

Robert Kennedy once wrote:

Part of the sense of helplessness and futility comes from the feeling of powerlessness to effect the operation of these institutions. The CAPs [Community Action Programs] must basically change these organizations by building into the program real representation for the them a real voice in their institutions.1

Perhaps we will not prevent this from being a world where human tragedy exists, but in the least come to understand our own power to effect the amount of human suffering. The journey lies not before us, but within us. If we fail to seek control of a disciplined community spirit, our efforts may end enslaved by our own inactions. We must always make our efforts to understand, to comprehend and replace violence with compassion and love, helping others to return to a more human time and place in their lives, where the promises of these programs are at last fulfilled for all.

Here on this day, let us acknowledge the full human equality of all people in this nation before God, institution and government. Finally, let us "dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks taught so many years ago, to tame the savages of man and make gentle the life of this world."

Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

1 U.S. House of Representatives.1964. Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. Hearings Before the Subcommittee on the War on Poverty Program of the Committee on Education and Labor, 88th Congress, 2nd Session, on H.R. 10440, 17 March 1064.

Page Updated: 2/27/21

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