Human Rights – something that is often talked about but little is done to define or uphold.
What is human rights? It seems so right yet appears such a fable. Most of the time we hear about human rights from some government official speaking about how some other government is negligent. Yet it is never defined.
Is it privacy rights? The right to use the internet without being monitored? Is it the right to healthcare and education? Is it having food, shelter, safety from violence? Or is it to uphold human dignity?
We never quite know since it is never defined properly, or has so many definitions as to become worthless. Is it the right for poor African Americans to be treated fairly under the law? Male African Americans? Why does the US with ¼ of the population of China have more than three times the amount of persons incarcerated? Mostly black and Latino males? Is this human rights?
Confusion is maybe the name of the game – as long as we don’t know what it is, it is a useful tool for controlling our thoughts and actions. Who is it that want to make us act without thinking? Who is it that defines another human being as an enemy and want us to take hostile action towards him/her?
Are there universal human desires? For such things as food, safety, love, nurture, communion? If there are, why are they not fulfilled? Why do we allow ourselves to be derailed from attaining these and passing them on to others? Is there any doubt that today we can easily feed the world and no one needs to go hungry? Or that we can eradicate most of the common diseases that kill children?
We choose not to.
Isn’t there a gift in giving? Why does it suit us to hoard “things” – money, land, items and safety? If we recognize the universal desires and needs of our fellow humans, why don’t we work to get and give? What is it that prevents us?
Ultimately, we want to receive from others, but need to be aware that giving is also receiving. Can we reasonably expect to receive without being generous? What is the origin of our selfishness? Don’t we know better?
Neglecting to provide food to the hungry, clothing to the naked and safety to the threatened is antisocial behavior and lack of empathy. Which of us have any remorse about this behavior?
Our conduct is very similar to the definition of psychopathy – “a personality trait or disorder characterized partly by enduring antisocial behavior, a diminished capacity for empathy or remorse, and poor behavioral controls” (Wikipedia). All wealthy people and governments have the possibility to address the needs of human rights. I define almost all of us living in North America and Europe as relatively wealthy, as well as large, affluent, segments of the developing world.
For whatever reason, we choose to exhibit this behavior.
Is there such a thing as human rights?