December 10th is International Human Rights Day. Began by the United Nations in 1948, the purpose of the day is to recognize the universal rights of all people, regardless of where they are on the globe. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, affirmed a short three years after the most horrendous war of the 20th century, flowed from the need to hold the international community accountable. It was a way of preventing the atrocities of the World War II period to never occur again.
The United Nations is said to be “the world’s last chance for peace” But yet, that lofty goal is at variance with our modern world, which is rife with ongoing conflict. In 2011, war and deprivation is ever-present, albeit not as severe as it was in 1945. Yet, we do not have to only look at the international scene in order to see an abrupt turn away from the principles laid down by world leaders. Here in the United States, political and social forces have moved to deprive an increasing number of people of basic needs. Article 25 of the Declaration states that all people have the right to a decent standard of living as well as housing, medical care, and security. All of these things are under attack, under the guise of fiscal responsibility, and progress. This movement towards social deprivation is threatening to move us all backwards, and needs to be pointed out relentlessly.
So when we think of ourselves as being for Human Rights, we can speak of the things that need to change here as well as the rest of the world.
Marc W. Polite