Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Blog Action Day - Human Rights

I am not even sure where to begin, because this topic is so huge, and I just couldn't find myself a niche to write about. Instead, I invite you to join me as I ramble about things I think are important, in relation to human rights around our country and the world.

Malala Yousafzai (1)
I find myself thinking a lot, lately, about Malala Yousafzai. On , she said “Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world,” Yousafzai said on September 27, 2013. “Let us stand up for our rights, and let us fight.” She's only 16 years old, and she's "just" a student. I watch her pretty face as she talks in videos, and she's animated, bright, excited for life. She's also probably top of the Taliban's "most wanted" list.

Yes, you have that right: a 16 year old school girl, armed with nothing more than an education and willpower, is causing the Taliban to quake. Perhaps she's hit on the strategy that we need to take. Perhaps what we need to do is stop blowing up things, and start sending our soldiers to schools where they can stand over young women like Malala as they learn. Perhaps we should be teaching our own young women about students like Malala, and encourage them to use the mighty sword of education to slay the dragons of our future.

Ms Yousafzai stands up for her right to education, her right to learn. She hasn't said a word about religion, politics, or government. Instead, she's talked about how important it is for children to be educated, and how that education makes them free. I was incredibly disappointed to learn that the (now meaningless, in my opinion) Nobel Peace Prize went to someone else.

Declaration (2)
In 1945, the United Nations made a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While I'm not a huge fan of the latest items put out by the United Nations, this one is a pretty nifty document. It talks about the various rights of human beings. Rights are inalienable... this means that they cannot be granted or taken away; they simply ARE. Privileges are granted, while rights just exist. These rights are things which are incredibly basic: the right to freedom, to basic education, to religious choice, to life partners, to vote, to humane care while imprisoned, and other such items.

What about other things that "might be" rights, though? Is it a human right to receive health care? To be happy? To have a job? I'm not so sure. It's definitely our right to pursue those things, but a right to have them? That seems a bit much. Can someone force you to be happy, or keep a job, or get care when you don't want (or need!) it? Is it even moral for someone to do so? I think not.

So what kind of things are rights? I think the UN's list is a good one. I'd love to see it come true, because as Malala has proven to us, education is only a right on paper. In reality, it's a privilege that only some of us get. Maybe rather than inventing new rights, we should start defending and spreading the use of the ones we've already declared.

What good is a human right if it isn't upheld? We can whine about the human right to education, to freedom of religion, or to not be held without cause, but if the human race as a whole chooses to allow one person or group to violate those rights, then what kind of people are we, really?

Ministry (3)
On a different note, when you come and talk to me as a minister, you have a right to confidentiality. I don't know if that's one of those "inalienable rights" or not, but I consider it such. But if you violate one of the Big Rules, I will report you. Those Big Things are child abuse, and harming a human being (including yourself). I don't report those out of malice, but out of love. I thank my gods on a regular basis that I have not had any moments when I've been in a situation of deciding whether something is serious enough to report or not. I know that some day I may have to... and I dread it. Confidentiality is a big thing for me. It enhances people's trust in me, and I hope rightly so.

I suppose if I summed it up, I'd say that I want to see what human rights we've decided on as a planet, actually enforced or upheld. I don't want to hear more stories about big, strong men with large guns shooting up school buses full of little girls who just want an education. That unmans ALL of us.

1) Image of Malala Yousafzai by U.S. Agency for International Development / Wikimedia Commons
2) Image by Kevin Connors / morgueFile
3) Image by magicART
Post a Comment