"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world….Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."
On December 10th, we observe the 72nd anniversary of Human Rights Day. In its simplest form, the day highlights the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which "sets out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations." It confirms equal dignity and the personal worth of everyone. (It holds the record for the most translated document, according to Guinness World Records.)
The document provides the basis of empowerment for all, regardless of color, creed, political persuasion, sexual preference, or nationality. And most importantly, it reaffirms that we are all equal under the orbit of freedom.
What is less known about this important document is the role women played in shaping and gaining support for it. America's First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt (1933-1944), was appointed as a delegate to the United Nations by President Harry Truman. She was the first Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights. She was not alone in her efforts.
After a final meeting, several women were present at a press conference to convey the results of their efforts. They included: Angela Jurdak (Lebanon), Fryderyka Kalinowski (Poland), Bodgil Begtrup (Denmark), Minerva Bernardino (Dominican Republic), and Hansa Mehta (India). The collaboration on this widely disseminated document is a lesson for all.
To develop a "feel" for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I urge everyone to read it. It appears to be lengthy, but it is not wordy. It has 1,773 words and requires slightly less than 12 minutes to read aloud. It provides a significant overview of fundamental human rights and the ideal for which we should strive. On a personal level, it is a lesson plan for behavior, whether it's nation to nation or person to person.
Article 1 is an example. It notes that "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."
You can also watch videos of people reading the document in more than 80 languages from 130 countries at https://www.un.org/en/udhr-video.
If you take a few minutes to read the entire document, you will also expose yourself to another benefit. It is a marvelous example of eloquence used to convey a lesson that touches us all.
That's my take, what's yours?