|Malala Yousafzai (1)|
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.
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?
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