News & Media Articles

6 December 2012

06 December 2012 By Ruby Ong

6 December 2012

To Be Human

One year ago, the words of Avihu Medina echoed from the stage of the Human Rights March rally in Rabin Square:

Lo were I fortunate / to ask for a fate / then I would ask / to be human.

Indeed we are fortunate enough to have adopted this very song – "To Be Human" – as the anthem of this year's – and future! --human rights marches. This year’s march will take place tomorrow, Friday, December 7, in Tel Aviv (for more details in English, please click here.) 

To open this year's rally, Neta Alkayim will perform a special version of the song, "To Be a Woman, To Be Human," to a crowd of thousands.  The moving video of Alkayim's rendition to “To Be Human” has already been watched thousands of times in just a week.

I came to this world, they did not ask me
What is it that I want nor what does my heart desire.
I came to this world and everything  already existed

None of us was asked before being brought into this world – a world in which everything already existed.  A world in which so many barriers stand between us and our dream of being human: racism and inequality, social and economic injustice, education gaps and glass ceilings.  Were we born into a family of refugees?  In a villagewithout a kindergarten, a water main or a paved road?  Did we grow up in a society that allowed us to play an equal role in the political decisions about our future?  If we decided to start a family, were quality health services made available to us?  Did we suffer from discrimination and inequality, or did we benefit from privileges denied to many others?  When we stood on our principles and sought to express ourselves, could we do so without fear?  Were “laws” enforced upon us with cynical arbitrariness or did they deliver true justice?

There is so much injustice, and all of it too already existed before we were born.  But so too does the dream of being human.  To realize our potential as equal humans, we believe in human rights - not as an abstract concept, not as a subject reserved for experts, and not as a distant vision, but rather as an inherent truth, a human-scale promise within our reach.  We strive to be humans that not only breathe the same air, walk the same earth and share the same homeland, but first and foremost we strive to be humans who respect the rights of the people and communities around us, and who demand dignified existence based on the recognition of human rights, equality and democracy.

No one among us can truly be human while others are prevented from being so.  When some people go without medicine or a roof over their heads, that suffering is not shared by those who go with.  But the inherent injustice affects us all. So too, when millions of people live without political rights under military rule; when entire populations suffer from policies of systematic discrimination; when the state mistreats asylum seekers, turns a blind eye to overt racism, legislates discriminatory laws, or incites the public, fanning the flames of alienation, separation, and injustice rather than protecting human rights and celebrating what human beings have in common.

Every year, throughout the year, we fight so that we can all be human.  One day a year, on the day of the Human Rights March, we stand together: different people from different communities, who entered the world with a myriad of differences, but who find a shared path.  We don't necessarily agree on every detail, but together we believe that human rights are part of a shared vision, a grand vision that we all have the responsibility to realize. And to realize this vision, to ground it both practically and locally, we will return and march together again this year.

Like everyone I am only human / Tired and disappointed
And only dreaming / Of being Human

We are not tired and not disappointed, and we insist that dreaming of being human is not enough. We must take real steps to realize our dream – we take those steps together at the March.

To be many thousands of people who fight together for the values of the society – including those in America and elsewhere without whose support we could not proceed – is why we are fortunate, why we are human, and why we join the Human Rights March.

Hagai El-Ad

Executive Director of flagship NIF grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel