Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Human rights prize ceremony offers inspiration

Dr. Tomicah Tillemann, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Madeleine K. Albright at the awards ceremony
(photo courtesy of the Lantos Foundation)

Each year we have the opportunity to attend the Lantos Foundation Human Rights Prize award ceremony which recognizes individuals who are committed to fighting for justice across the globe.  The prize, in its fifth year, has previously been awarded to His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Nobel Peace Prize winner), Professor Elie Wiesel (Nobel Peace Prize winner, holocaust survivor, professor and author of 57 books), Paul Rusesabagina (Rwandan hotel manager whose humanitarian actions are the basis for the movie Hotel Rwanda) and Chen Guangcheng (a blind Chinese civil rights activist known as the "barefoot lawyer" who was jailed for challenging China's one-child policy).  This year the recipient was Hillary Rodham Clinton for her work with women's rights and promoting Internet freedom.

Through one of those convoluted family trees, my husband and I are related by marriage to the former Congressman Tom Lantos who is the namesake of the foundation and the award (which explains our inclusion on the invitation list).  We try to make it anytime the event is held in the Washington, DC area. The event is so inspirational because of the opportunity to not only hear from the prize recipient and presenters, but to meet other attendees who are active in the fight for democracy, decency, dignity, freedom and justice.  

In the introduction of her friend Hillary, before the award of the prize, another former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, said that "I have always believed there is a special place in hell for women who don't help each other." which brought a rousing round of applause and cheering from the unusually large number of women in the audience.  You could feel the energy and sense of community as women looked around, nodding and smiling to each other while they clapped.  I think the men might have been a little perplexed by the sudden shift in energy in the room, but by the looks on people's faces, almost everyone felt it.  

I left the event feeling energized and inspired to share that sense of community with others.  This feeling carried me through to the weekend where Aurora and I hosted our first community building event as the Zen Gypsies.  I hope that you find inspiration to find ways to share your unique voice with those around you.  

Thanks for reading!

Mementos and chocolates commemorating the event

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