December 13, 2020-
December 10 was designated by the United Nations, in 1948, as Human Rights Day. In that year, the UN issued its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As it’s a declaration, and not a law, there is a misperception, by those who style themselves as all-pwerful, that these provisions are toothless and unenforceable.
That last is only true, as long as the people of the world allow it to be the case. When the people of a community, a country or a region stand up to actual tyranny, it can be brought to a halt. One recent example of this was in Sudan, where the people carefully built a civic movement which resulted in removing the country’s dictator from power. This took several years, but it succeeded because the nation did not lose heart.
In the United Nations declaration, there are about thirty areas that are mentioned as applicable to every person on Earth. See https://www.un.org/en/udhrbook/pdf/udhr_booklet_en_web.pdf, for the complete document.
I want to address a few of these rights, specifically as they impact my life and the lives of those around me:
- “All human beings are born free and
equal in dignity and rights. They are
endowed with reason and conscience
and should act towards one another in a
spirit of brotherhood. ” I was raised to believe that this true, regardless of a person’s circumstances of birth, or living conditions, I was to treat him/her with respect and dignity. This is not an abstract concept.
- From Article 25,
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled
to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock,
shall enjoy the same social protection. I have made my own position on these two matters very clear, in several places in the past. Mothers, whether wed or unwed, should be enveloped in love. This goes doubly for children.
There are codiciles about the rights of women, in general. That no one should be subjected to substandard treatment, owing to gender or any other physical trait, is something which often requires deep psychological and social pondering, and excision at both personal and communal levels.
There are many women in my life, each of whom expects what one of them calls “neutral love”. They are, each and all, as valuable a friend, if not more so, as any of the men. It is my honour and privilege to encourage all friends in pursuit of their dreams and goals, so long as those dreams and goals are not injurious to self and others.
Finally, no one should be subject to patronization or to being led astray. I have had to struggle with balancing between not disappointing someone and not abiding his/her engaging in false hope.
It will be a long and hard effort to overcome deprivation of the individual and collective rights of the most marginalized people, but we have the means to embark on this very effort. It will take all of us, regardless of circumstances and mindsets, if it is to be achieved.