Selassie's speech on Tolerance
by , translated by Haile Selassie I Press
It gives us great pleasure to appear before this distinguished assemblage and we bring you the fraternal salutations of the Ethiopian people.
The people of Ethiopia and Trinidad and Tobago are joined in a massive and continuous effort to create for themselves a new and better way of life. They face many of the same problems. The hopes and aspirations which they share derive from the same essential beliefs in the nature and destiny of man. It is thus inevitably true that there should exist between those two great peoples strong and lasting ties of friendship and understanding
Your role as the representatives of the people is a particularly critical one in the councils of the twentieth century. The manner in which a representative of the people should properly discharge his responsibilities has long been a matter for learned discussion among philosophers and political scientists.
The world of the developing nations is creating new problems for the scholars to ponder as new societies are emerging to deal with the intricate and explosive questions of national and institutional development.
Is a representative responsible only to a constituency or to the particular group or interest which has chosen or appointed him? Certainly this responsibility Must be an element in the thought and action of such a man, but there are higher values and greater interests and responsibilities than these.
Obstacles, Sectional, tribal and other divisive factors often pose major obstacles to national development. In their expanded sense, as narrowly national and ideological interests, they threaten unity and progress.
No one is today so foolish as to believe that any one nation constitutes a perfect monolith of faith and ideology. Nor could anyone wish that there should be such utter vanity of thought and aspiration.
The systems of Government which have sought to impose uniformity of belief have survived briefly and then expired, blinded and weakened by obsessive reliance upon their supposed infallibility. The only system of Government which can survive is one which is prepared to tolerate dissent and criticism and Which accepts these as useful and in any case, inevitable aspects of all social and political relations.
The tolerance of dissent and criticism within a Government proceeds from a single essential premise: that the Government exists to serve the people generally. Government servants, whether designated as representatives or not, have a trust to work for the general welfare.
The same trust exists among the member states of international organizations. The members of such organizations must adhere to some tacit or expressed conception of international welfare.
In the case of the Organization of African Unity, it is an African Unity, it is an African welfare; in the case of the United Nations Organization, it is world welfare.
In one way or another, the member nation must accept in thought, spirit and action the basic premise of their institutions that men of all races, beliefs and status share some essential common goals.
From this premise, no great and easy actions follow as corollaries. The representatives of peoples and nations can only come together with open and objective minds and willing hearts to engage in dialogue, without rigid dogmas and slogans and without violence.
Working in this way achieves no instant Utopia. It may, however, enable us to achieve together what it is possible to achieve and to move forward steadily, if not always in great haste, with some degree of harmony and mutual understanding.
Domestically, we can build strong and happy and resourceful societies. internationally, we can force the end of oppression of man by man and nation by nation. We can bring about the security and mutual trust which will open the way to the greater human achievements for which the needs of mankind now cry out.
Permit me to express my heartfelt gratitude for the reception accorded me by the people and Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
|This is a translation and has a separate copyright status from the original text. The license for the translation applies to this edition only.|