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We all hear people from all countries talk about equality, freedom, non-discrimination, and about the union of countries worldwide. To what extent does reality prove this is not possible?

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In my opinion, reality does not prove that equality, freedom, non-discrimination, and even the union of countries worldwide are not possible. What reality proves is that these laudable goals are entirely possible, but not immediately so. Reality also proves that what is meant by these global dreams differs from person to person and from place to place.

When my grandmothers were girls (a little over 100 years ago) in the U.S., people also longed for equality, freedom, non-discrimination, and international cooperation, and, in fact, all of these longings were possible even then, but to a much more limited extent than today. Here's one example: in the early 1900s, many (most?) U.S. women were not legally allowed to vote, and many African Americans were not allowed to vote until passage of the U.S. Civil Rights Act (1964). Here's another example, but in quite a different area: all of us who study world history learn about various international associations through history—from trade partnerships to foreign colonies to such "modern" organizations as the United Nations, the Pan American Union, and the Council of Europe. 20 years ago, however, who would have dreamed of the European Union or the Union of South American Nations?

There are countless other examples for each of the areas (equality, freedom, non-discrimination, global cooperation) mentioned in the topic given above. One only has to "take the long view" when considering these areas and to investigate to what extent each area has existed in various places at various times.

What is not possible, from my point of view, is that all people everywhere will agree to implement equality, freedom, non-discrimination, and international union in exactly the same way to exactly the same extent at exactly the same time. Do you remember that famous line from Animal Farm? ("All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.")
Unfortunately, reality shows that many people in the world do not follow those principles. Money seems to be more important than anything else and, when innocent people die, they talk about "collateral damage".
On the other hand, more and more people are starting to see beyond race, prejudice and religion. If we respected each other, accepting our differences and embracing our similarities, there wouldn't be place for hate or discrimination.
Florencia's remarks are sad but true in the first paragraph and both true and encouraging in the second paragraph.

Money definitely seems to be more important than anything else—at least as far as politicians and national governments and global corporations go (though not, I hope, as far as thinking people go, regardless of their location). Characterizing the death of innocent people as "collateral damage" is a sad, sad comment on the human condition!

But there is hope. As Florencia says, "...more and more people are starting to see beyond race, prejudice, and religion." This is definitely true, but I think it's necessary to "take the long view" to realize that it's true. From the time I was a child until the time that I was a young adult (around 40 years ago), for example, segragation was openly practiced in the U.S. I remember, when I was 17 or 18, seeing a pair of drinking fountains and a double set of rest rooms; the drinking fountains were unisex but separated racially ("Whites Only" and "Colored") and the rest rooms were separated by gender and race ("White Women Only" / "Colored Women" and the same for men). Thank goodness things have changed! And when you compare what it was then with what it's like now (an African American is actually a very serious contender for President of the U.S.!), the change has been phenomenal!
As Dennis says, in the course of history, people have always been struggling for their rights. Take women, for instance, who have long been enslaved, oppressed and degraded. There are countries in which they have overcome these problems and are treated on equal terms with men. They can compete with them and are capable of filling high-powered jobs. However, there are countries where they're still fighting against discrimination and the like.

I believe, it's all a question of education, perseverance and equality of opportunity. Who knows? Perhaps one day reality proves all this is possible and we can enjoy a world free from prejudice and inequality.
Wishful thinking?
Silvia points out that it may be wishful thinking to long for a day when education, perseverance, and equality of opportunity will make it possible for all women everywhere to overcome the slavery, oppression, and debasement that women still face in some parts of the globe. I can't even conceive of characterizing equal opportunity as wishful thinking, and if that makes me naive and a dreamer, I don't care: helping such changes happen is what makes us all truly human, I think. I also think making a personal effort to promote peace and equality is a major criterion of living a "good life."
Historical facts show that people around the world do not care as much as they should be about all of these issues. What is even worse, many people is suffering illnesses and starving without any help from others. How come? Big countries (most of them were colonial 200 years ago) have to do with this unpalatable situation in places such as Africa, Asia or even America nowadays.
Everybody wishes peace or freedom, but if we take a look at the situation in Middle East, nothing seems to be solved. From my point of view, developed countries should make an effort to change this facts, but without financial interests.
It is our duty, as citizens, to be conscious about everything that is happening in the world. On the one hand, we should help to avoid this propblems in out society. On the other hand, we must express our view aloud. The world needs brave people who can add the common people's mind to politics.
The world won't change while we are sitting in our living-rooms watching terrible things just as passive customers of the mass media info. We must reach the goals of equality, freedom, non-discrimitation and happiness as a society and as a united world.
Not an easy question. It seems that as human beings we are constantly moving back and forth along the continuum between our 'I' and 'we' nature. On the one hand we want to be recognized as individual and autonomous, free beings, and on the other feel the need to seek shelter, warmth, love, safety as members of a larger group, community. And the same can be said of groups, communities, nations. They are preoccupied with establishing and developing their own identities on the one hand but also feeling the need to be part of something bigger. So we keep compromising on various levels all our lives, sometimes there's more of the 'I', sometimes more of the 'we', and luckily sometimes we also manage to balance the two and everybody feels happy. Even if only for a while. The problem? Our pragmatic nature picks the position alongside the continuum that suits it best in the given circumstances. So the noble ideals that we talk about may be generally cherished and believed in, but seem to be more often described in terms of wishes and dreams than in terms of reality.
Us humans -as any other animal- have a natural tendency towards competition. We are designed to feel good when standing victorious over others.
A natural healthy way of fulfilling this need are sports. Unhealty ways, we already know to many...

So we strive to differenciate from others, to excel. It's what makes us part of nature. The problem is that the winner almost never lends a hand to those comming behind. So it's a matter of not sharing, of staying ahead, of believing that competing is everything.

There's no freedom without equality. There's no equality without non-discrimination.

So let's start there.

We use this concept signifying that we don't pre-judge about someone else's lifestyle/culture/race, etc. But generally we don't realize that it also involves not discriminating ourselves from others. Some parts of society -due to fear, bad experiences, history or home education- tend to discriminate themselves, closing the door to anyone that "doesn't belong, because they wouldn't understand". Well, the thing is, we can't understand if you won't help us. There's a lot of this attitude going on in the world.

Equality (I believe) means "equal chances", "fair treatment", "same rights". We have to try to make our best with those chances given to us. So we, who fortunately have got a fair amount of chances (the more equal animals of the farm), would try to make the difference for those who aren't given these opportunities. It is painfully clear that, in general, wealthy nations governments won't.

Regarding Freedom.

In Argentina, we have freedom of speach and free access to any writen or Internet material and maybe ebven, we can afford to buy a car to take us places. Education is free for all, so are health services.

Developed countries habitants have a more "expanded freedom". Travelling abroad, for instance, is cheaper, thus more achievable. So freedom evolved in some parts of the world, to a selfish kind of "respect for peers welfare" (for instance, many European historic places charge admission fees only to non-European). These countries have anti-inmigration policies, restricting outsiders to seek freedom (or better life quality) there.

In other countries, freedom just means "been able to breath".
In my opinion, is not reality but humans who prove that this MAY not be possible.
But, some people may take "hard to do" as "impossible". Impossible things in life can be counted with our hands' fingers. Humans get what humans give, and lately we're getting too use to have others to do things for us, as machines, employees,etc. But there is something that no high-tech robot can do for us, and that is to accept that we're not perfect, that we can make mistakes, but that we can also learn from them, learn to change, and when you can change yourself, your mind, you can change every thing that surrounds you.
If you respect yourself, you will respect others, if you make an error, but you forgive yourself for doing it, then, you won't punish others for making some mistakes.
When you get to know yourself, you are more open to know others, and when you get certain ammount of knowledge (and I'm not talking about academical knowledge, but the one that life itself increases during YOUR life), your fears go away. Why? Instead of taking the unknown as something bad, you learn that in life we are all different, everything in nature it's unique, every individual has its own very personal features that make it different from the other individuals of its own specie.
People nowadays is so worried about themselves and so closed in their personal problems or whatsoever, that they don't take the time necessary to know that we are not the only creatures in this world, that there are more humans out there, and that they are all different on the inside and on the outside, but to be different doesn't mean to be bad.
Often when we say (and I include myself) that something is impossible, we are afraid to take a risk, or we are just being lazy or scared about changing something.
Having a world full of equality, non-discrimination and freedom is possible, but we have to work for it (:


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