Speech in conjunction with the UNESCO Center for Peace on United Nations Day Hood College, Frederick, MD, October 24, 2005

Speech in conjunction with the UNESCO Center for Peace
on United Nations Day
Hood College, Frederick, MD, October 24, 2005

Thank you Mr. Djoken; it is certainly an honor to be here with the Center for Peace in conjunction with International United Nations Day, honoring the idea of world respect and universal justice and human rights.

It was Zeno, the 3rd century B.C. Greek philosopher, who gave form to the vision of a world which should be a single global community of humankind, "in which all humans should be members one of another, citizens of one state without distinction of race or institutions."

It would take more than 2000 years for this vision to be imagined as a legal entity, with the creation of the League of Nations after World War I. Today's United Nations, the heritor of this impetus, is the largest and most powerful international body in the history of humankind that has grown out of Zeno's vision of a single global community.

My Human Rights Painting Project highlights these very same ideals - those of a humanity that is patriotic to humanity itself, above country, race, ethnicity or to the state in which they live. And it is this patriotism - to the highest aspirations of the human being as members of a global community - that is exemplified not only by my paintings, but also by the United Nations, and such groups as the Center for Peace.

I have two specific philosophical goals for my Human Rights Painting Project:

The first, and perhaps most important, is to help break down the barriers between "us" and "them" - to show how these categories should only relate to what is in the heart, not to the color of the skin or a person's religion or any other signifier.

For me, anything that draws boundaries between human beings due to religion, ethnicity, class, skin color or any other such-like characteristic grows out of ignorance; an ignorance of the fact that we are, as a species a single human being - each and every one of us is an equal neuron in the vast mind that is humanity. True education is that which opens the eyes of the audience, highlights human similarities, preaches respect and shows that we are each part of some universal whole.

A second purpose of my Human Rights Painting Project is to highlight that the ideals of Truth, Justice and Freedom are only ideas, until someone is willing to die for them. In a world striving towards patriotism to all of humanity, and not some sub-class thereof, these ideals of are paramount importance - and represent the highest aspirations of humankind.

Ultimately, it is through the willingness to die for these ideals of the figures such as Sowore Omoyele, Jose Ortega, Maung Maung and others represented in the exhibit in the Hodson Library that makes of these ideals a reality - bringing them into our lives as a reality.