December is Universal Human Rights Month. It began out of the ugliness, terror and cruelty of World War II. In the wake of that devastation and documented cruelty, the United Nations came to a thoughtful, strategic and empowering decision. They issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Dec. 10, 1948, which codified a standard for the treatment of everyone.
It is a remarkable document, given that the precept is based upon the notion that men and women representing every color, creed and ethnic persuasion in the world could work together to produce such a statement. (Eleanor Roosevelt was the United States representative during the drafting of the document.)
The UDHR has a preamble and 31 articles that we should all denote as required reading. It is a beautiful document. Don’t let the number of articles alarm you. A few are one sentence long. (I couldn’t help but notice that our U.S. Constitution has a preamble, seven articles and 12 amendments. I’d like to believe that ours served as a starting point.)
The UDHR not only advocates what we should have, but also principles to which we have a right. Many consider it the first pillar in establishing a foundation for international law.
Here are a few examples:
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.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(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.
Typically, when I sit to write my weekly blog, I ask myself what is the single message that I hope succeeds over all of the other information or opinions that I offer. Here is what prevails in this message:
It is time for us to start living up to the standard and treat everyone else the way you want to be treated by others. If we start treating people with respect and dignity, the world will be a much happier place built on an unwavering foundation of freedom, justice and peace.
If this seems like a high and lofty ideal, it is. But as with much of what is good in life, there is a price. And that price is that we keep the ideal close to us and that we take some action that supports and promotes the very principles to which we should all strive. We all must carry this obligation to one another, that no matter the risk and regardless of the reward, we must stand up for one another. Human rights cannot be compromised, and it begins with each of us.
One last thought. We often think of December as a holiday season for many faiths. Universal Human Rights Month is for all, regardless of faith.
That’s my take, what’s yours?