Today, we live in a world with many people from different backgrounds and beliefs. It is not unusual for persons who are different from each other to disagree. However, sometimes the tensions between different individuals or groups are so great that they result in one individual or group discriminating against another, violence occurring, and even worst, death.
We do not live in a perfect world and real differences do exist amongst different groups of people. These differences may vary depending on the time, location, culture of a society, and the particular individual. But despite these differences, as a people, as a human race, we must find a way to live with each other as much as is reasonably possible.
It cannot be ‘my way or no way’ if that is causing injustice and/or others to suffer in our society. And just because we hold certain beliefs or traditions, does not mean that others who do not follow or identify with those beliefs or traditions should be inconvenienced or live less dignified lives. All of us are different, however, all of us are born with inalienable human rights.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), in its Constitution sets out a number of fundamental rights and freedoms, and SVG has signed, ratified, and/or acceded to a number of international human rights treaties that give rise to different legal obligations at the domestic level. It is recognized that fundamental rights and freedoms can be limited, if such limitations are reasonably justifiable in a democratic society with respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
According to section 1 of the preamble of the Bill of Rights in SVG’s Constitution, an individual’s fundamental rights and freedoms are subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others. If you respect someone, you have due regard for their wishes, rights, or customs, and you would try to avoid doing things that they would dislike or regard as wrong.
In exercising our rights, we must therefore respect the rights and freedoms of others. Due to our inherent human dignity, we have rights and others have rights also. Moreover, we must realize that sometimes some of our rights may need to be limited if how we express that right is negatively affecting the rights of others. Compromises may need to be made and a balancing exercise between different rights may need to be done.
As a society we must learn to tolerate and respect the differences of other people. Many societies today are multicultural, and different groups must learn to coexist amongst each other or else “all hell will break loose” and anarchy will follow.
Today, I encourage us to seek to coexist in love, peace, and justice, with respect for the rights, freedoms, and dignity of those who may be different from us.
Author: Jeshua Bardoo is a Vincentian Barrister-at-law and Solicitor. He is also the President of Equal Rights, Access and Opportunities SVG Inc. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org