“It is how we treat the weakest, or the most vulnerable among us, that says the most about our commitment to human rights and equality, and justice for all people. And when we most clearly seen to truly stand for those things in the world, that is when we are safest as a nation.”
This is a part of the speech Angelina Jolie made at an Islamic event hosted by Ali Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Virginia over a year ago.
This speech comes as an effort to send out a strong message to the people that a religion should not be judged by the examples of the few who abuse it, but rather understood through the eyes of the many that truly follow its peaceful principles.
Joining Secretary of State John Kerry, Jolie advocated for the admission of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, who were left without their homes in the wake of a devastating war.
As Jolie reminds, the democratic society of the United States is based on the principles of acceptance and diversity. “We are not strong despite our diversity, we are strong because of it. So, it is time to reclaim for ourselves the idea of what strength is in democratic societies.”
Even a year later, her message is still very relevant to the reality which is shaking the foundations of the American society, threatening to shatter the values on which it has been based and which have made it so great.
In a time where many have chosen to toss the blame of a few to so many who have not agreed to such acts, Jolie reminds everyone that this kind of behavior does not define strength.
“Strength lies in identifying the very particular challenge from a small minority of people who choose the path of violent extremism or who abuse a religion, without stigmatizing, isolating millions of people who share in that beautiful religion.”
Denigrating people because of their religion, nationality, sexual orientation, gender, or because of any other characteristic or difference is not what defines strength.
“When we discriminate, when we imply by our actions that some lives are worth more than others, or when we denigrate the faith, traditions, and cultures of any group of people, we weaken our strength as democratic societies.”
In times when hate speech and stigmatization of innocent people are at large, we need to remind ourselves that these are not the real values of a strong society and that everyone could fall into a target group at any given time and for no solid reason.