I just came upon such a speech, posted by Vital Speeches of the Day. It’s by Rosalie Silberman Abella, Justice, Supreme Court of Canada. It’s titled, “The World Is Not Unfolding As It Should: International Justice in Crisis.” Read it here.
I find it both intellectually challenging and emotionally gripping. She’s not afraid to engage her audience’s intellect. She doesn’t dumb things down or overly simplify complex matters. And, at the same time, she doesn’t treat her subject as if it’s a purely academic concern, divorced from our real world, devoid of human pathos.
She’s grieved by what she sees happening in the world, and she thinks we should be too.
Her words have power, not just because of the thoughts and emotions they express, but because of the way she strings them together. Here are a few quotes I like:
Democratic values, while no guarantee, are still the best aspirational goals in my view, because without democracy there are no rights, without rights there is no tolerance, without tolerance there is no justice, and without justice, there is no hope.
The world was supposed to have learned three indelible lessons from the concentration camps of Europe:
1. Indifference is injustice’s incubator;
2. It’s not just what you stand for, it’s what you stand up for; and
3. We must never forget how the world looks to those who are vulnerable.
When we talk about democracy, we’re not just talking about elections. To say democracy is only about elections is like saying you don’t need the whole building if you have the door. Elections tell democracy it’s welcome to come in, but elections are only the entrance. Without a home, democracy can’t settle down. It needs an edifice of rules and rights and respect to grow up healthy and secure.
Give it a read. And let me know what you think.