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I hate having to be responsible for presentations.  I especially hate it when I am also responsible for coercing a bunch of kids into doing a presentation in front of the entire school, since each one of those kids is an unknown variable of disobedience and distraction.  You have to assume that they will miss their cues, forget their lines, or play fun games with each other like “Poky Poky Rib Stabby,” “How Stupid Can I Make My Face Look?” or “Obnoxious Shin-Kicking.”

It’s too bad, really.  The material is so solid.

My kids are supposed to be introducing the concept of “Acceptance” to the school at large, and the only way I could think to get that idea across was by using the words of people that lived out lives dedicated to the advancement of human rights and tolerance.  After all, I was a bully by inaction my whole life.  What could I offer to them in the way of wisdom from my own failings?

I chose three individuals that lived (and in two cases, died) in pursuit of the unconditional acceptance of their fellow man.  The kids are taking turns reading out short biographies of their lives and quotes that reflect their goals and dreams.  Their words are too brilliant not to post here too.  (The very last one is my favourite.)

“I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”

“Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.”

“We must become the change we want to see in the world.”

Mohandas Gandhi

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Nelson Mandela