Katherine Scourtes: Honoring human rights
What do white people, black people, people of any color, indigenous people, people of all religions, LGBTQ people, handicapped people, veterans, men, women, children, and any other people belonging to the human race have in common?
The answer is: human rights.
We usually don’t stop to think of human rights until “ours” are violated, and then we are outraged. Who is going to defend us? Based on what? History shows that during World War II — and immediately afterwards, millions of people were slaughtered out of hate and revenge, and no one was there to defend them. The stories are countless and most of us, no matter what group we belong to, can look at our family histories and find atrocities related to this human tragedy.
It is for this reason that on Dec. 10, 1948, guided by the leadership of United States’ first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and the United States Constitution, the United Nations adopted the Declaration of Human Rights. These rights were not new. They always existed — just not on paper, because they are inalienable, meaning they belong to all human beings just because of our common humanity.
Some of these rights include the right to life, liberty and security, the right not to be enslaved or traded, the right not to be tortured, the right not to be arbitrarily arrested, the right of families to be protected, the right of work, the right of freedom of expression, etc., etc.
However, after almost three generations since this momentous signing, these rights are slipping away, and we seem to be forgetting the importance of everyone’s humanity. The United Nations has no power to enforce these rights so it’s up to us to know what our rights are, and to demand that our governments respect them. This is true for all of us, no matter what country we belong to, what gender or color we are, or what religion we practice.
The United Nations celebrates Dec. 10 as Human Rights Day because it is only by remembering, by staying vigilant and by defending the human rights of everyone that these rights will be there when we need them.
For more information, the history and a complete listing of all human rights, please go to:
Anyone who would like a free booklet of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with all 30 of these rights listed, please send a request to the local chapter of the United Nations Association at: UNA-USA Golden Empire, P.O. Box 2683, Grass Valley, CA 95945.
Katherine Scourtes is a member of the UNA-USA Golden Empire Chapter.
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